Authors: Lee Bacon
Also by Lee Bacon
Joshua Dread: The Nameless Hero
A Mutant Named Mizzie
(A Digital Original Short Story)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2014 by Lee Bacon
Jacket and interior illustrations copyright © 2014 by Brandon Dorman
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Dominion Key / Lee Bacon. — First edition.
pages cm. — (Joshua Dread; )
Summary: When Alabaster Academy, a school for students with superpowers, comes under attack, Joshua and his friends race to stop evil Phineas Vex from finding a mysterious key that will enable complete world domination for whoever possesses it.
ISBN 978-0-385-74382-2 (hc) — ISBN 978-0-375-99130-1 (glb) —
ISBN 978-0-385-37127-8 (ebook)
[1. Supervillains—Fiction. 2. Superheroes—Fiction. 3. Friendship—Fiction.] I. Title.
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For my grandparents
James and Sue Greek
Our trip to the mall started off normal enough. I should’ve known it wouldn’t stay that way.
I was with my friends Milton, Sophie, and Miranda. Milton and I had gotten to know the girls a while back (long story). Then we were all nearly killed by a supervillain in an indestructible suit (even
“I hate back-to-school sales,” Milton complained, looking at a
sign as we wandered into a store. “They should call them summer’s-about-to-be-over-and-there’s-nothing-you-can-do-about-it sales.”
“That’s not quite as catchy,” I said. But I totally knew what he meant. Seventh grade was starting in a few days, and I wished there were a way to slow down time, to keep things exactly the way they were. Long days with nothing to do but hang out with friends. No classes, no homework, no evil maniacs trying to kill you.
“Hey, check it out!” Miranda said. “It’s
Nearby was a rack of T-shirts, all with the same picture on the front. My picture. Except hardly anybody outside our group would recognize me. My identity was hidden by a uniform and a mask. Superheroic letters stretched behind me, spelling out
THE NAMELESS HERO
It was hard to believe that I’d briefly been the most famous kid on the planet. That I’d appeared on TV shows and in commercials, had my face plastered across all kinds of products. It had only been a couple of months since the hype over the Nameless Hero had died down, but to me it felt like a couple of decades.
And apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was moving on. The store was obviously trying to get rid of all its Nameless Hero inventory. A sign on top of the rack read
ALL NAMELESS HERO MERCHANDISE MUST GO!!!
Sophie nudged me with her elbow. “That’s a pretty good deal. Maybe I should get one.”
“Or fifty,” I said. “They’ll be collector’s items someday.”
“And every time I see it, I’ll remember the good old days.”
“Like getting chased around Times Square by clones?”
Our conversation came to a sudden stop when I noticed Joey and Brick coming our way. Just seeing the two biggest bullies in Sheepsdale knocked my mood down a few notches.
Joey had red hair and a pointed face that reminded me of a rat with an attitude problem. Brick looked like … well, a
Joey gave Miranda a harsh look. “Who’s the new girl?” He turned his sneer on Sophie. “Is she a freak like you?”
Sophie stepped toward Joey and Brick. “Leave us alone.”
Even though Brick was about twice Sophie’s size, a shadow of fear passed over his face. He was probably remembering how Sophie had dismantled a hallway of lockers and sent him and Joey to the nurse’s office last year.
See, Sophie has the power of superhuman strength. But it comes with a slight … side effect. Whenever she uses her Gyft, it causes her skin to radiate in a way that makes her look like Tinker Bell. Except much bigger, and a whole lot stronger.
“What’re you gonna do?” Joey asked. “Show off your freaky glow-in-the-dark trick for everyone in the mall?”
He gestured to the crowds of shoppers moving through the aisles around us. As much as I hated to admit it, Joey had a point. If Sophie used her Gyft right now, it would draw a lot of unwanted attention.
And believe me, for kids like us, unwanted attention can be a
“Let’s just go,” I said to Sophie in a low voice. “They’re not worth it.”
“Speaking of freaky …” Joey turned toward Milton and me. “It’s the Amazing Exploding Dork and his trusty sidekick.”
My hands curled into fists. I could feel my own Gyft—spontaneous combustion—crackling inside me. It always starts off the same: A tingling in my fingertips. A pounding heartbeat. Energy pulsing through my veins. It wouldn’t take much to make these two regret ever messing with us.
But a few shoppers were looking in our direction. I wasn’t sure how they’d react if I blasted Joey and Brick all the way to the underwear department.
“Come on,” I said to my friends. “Let’s hit the food court.”
“I sure could go for some cheese fries!” Milton was at the front of our group, an excited look on his face. He gets that way whenever cheese fries are an option.
Sophie didn’t look nearly so thrilled. I could see that the confrontation was still weighing on her.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
She shrugged. “Sometimes I just wish I could be—”
“Like everyone else?”
Sophie let out a deep breath. “Exactly.”
I definitely knew how she felt. I’d spent my life trying to blend in, to be normal. But that’s basically impossible when you’ve got parents like mine.
“Those guys are jerks,” I said. “They pick on everyone. It’d be weird if they
mess with you.”