Authors: Lucas Flint
Tags: #young adult, #superheroes
“How did you react?” I said.
“I was angry and hurt at first because he had been keeping secrets from me,” said Mom. She shook her head. “But when I realized that your father was just being honest, I forgave him. I loved him too much to reject him because of his powers, because I had seen just how great a man he was and I realized it would be foolish if I rejected him because of something he was born with.”
“What about the fact that he was a superhero who put himself in life-threatening dangers, though?” I said. “Didn't that ever worry you?”
“It did, especially after you were born,” said Mom. “Before you were born, I was able to tolerate it, but when you were born, I didn't like not knowing if your father would get killed by some crazy supervillain. Especially after Jake was killed by Master Chaos and your father went after him; I worried that Chaos would kill Ted, too.”
“But he didn't,” I said. “And Dad retired, right?”
“Right,” said Mom. “He realized that you would need a father in your life if you were going to grow up better than he did.”
I frowned. “Better than he did? What do you mean?”
Mom shook her head. “Oh, it's nothing. You don't really need to know about it.”
“Yes, I do,” I said. “How was Dad raised? Why didn't he want me to be raised that way? What were his parents like?”
I asked these questions because I honestly didn't know much about Dad's parents. I knew about Grandpa and Grandma, who were Mom’s parents and who I had met when I was younger, but I had never met Dad's parents. I was always under the impression that they had both died sometime before Dad met Mom, but when I thought about it, neither Mom nor Dad ever actually confirmed that for me.
Mom again looked away. She started playing with her blue necklace, like we were getting into territory that she didn't want to talk about. That, of course, just made me even more curious than before.
“Mom?” I said. “Why are you not answering my questions about Dad's parents?”
At first, I thought Mom was just going to keep ignoring my questions, but then she looked at me and said, “Because I promised your father that I wouldn't.”
“What?” I said. “Why would you promise that to Dad? What—”
All of a sudden, the escape pod shuddered and came to a stop. The stop was so abrupt that I was thrown to the floor, while Mom instinctively grabbed onto the arms of her seat to keep herself from falling down with me.
“What's happening?” said Mom, looking around the still pod in fear. “Why did the pod stop?” She looked down at me. “Kevin, are you okay?”
I pushed myself up and rubbed my forehead, which hurt from where I had hit it on the floor. “Yeah, but I don't know what's happened. Valerie, can you tell if we've stopped somewhere?”
“Unfortunately, Bolt, I am unable to do that,” said Valerie. “We are still too deep underwater for me to connect with a satellite or something else that could help me figure out where we are.”
“Maybe the pod has finally reached its destination?” said Mom. “Perhaps there is a secret underwater government base that it is supposed to go to when it is launched.”
“Maybe,” I said as I got into a sitting position. I looked up at the door, but I did not see anything except water through the window. “Let me go check—”
The pod shook again and started moving, causing Mom to redouble her grip on the seat's arms, while I grabbed my seat and looked around in alarm.
“Why is it moving again?” said Mom. “Where are we going?”
“I don't know,” I said. “But it feels like we're going up, doesn't it?”
“It does,” said Mom. “But what does that mean? Where are we going up
“Guess we're about to find out,” I said.
Soon, I heard the pod rise out of the water, followed by what sounded like a metal opening being closed underneath us. Then the pod stopped rising, but I could not hear anything on the outside that might have told us what was out there. Mom and I sat very still for a couple of minutes, listening in silence, but it was absolutely quiet on the outside, so quiet that I couldn't even hear the water.
“Are we … in some kind of underwater base?” Mom whispered. She was gripping the arms of her seat so tightly that her knuckles had gone white.
“Not sure,” I whispered in an equally low voice. “Let me go check.”
I stood up, but then Mom grabbed my arm and said, “Kevin, please don't. What if it's a villain or something dangerous out there? You don't have your powers anymore, so you couldn't defend yourself.”
“Mom, it's fine,” I said. “I'm just going to peek out the window. If I see anyone, I'll duck so they won't see me.”
Mom looked extremely reluctant to let go of me, but she must have trusted me, because she finally let go and said, “Okay, Kevin, but please be careful. We have no idea what is out there.”
I nodded and then slowly made my way over to the door, keeping doubled over so that no one on the other side would be able to see me.
Reaching the door, I raised my head just high enough to peer through the window. I couldn't see much due to how small the window was, but I could see we had been pulled into the interior of what looked like some kind of ship. It looked like a spaceship, reminding me of the interior of the
, but it looked entirely empty, almost lifeless. A blinking red light came from the right, but I couldn't see the light itself.
“What do you see?” Mom whispered. “Is anyone out there?”
“No,” I whispered back, shaking my head. “It looks abandoned. Maybe there's no one—”
All of a sudden, I saw fast movement on the other side and the door to the escape pod was jerked open. Before I could react, something hot and sticky struck me in the stomach and knocked me backwards onto the floor at Mom's feet.
“Kevin!” Mom shouted. “Are you okay?”
I was about to answer, but then a shadow appeared in the entrance to the pod and I forgot how to speak when I saw what it was:
The creature standing in the entryway to the pod was a real, live Pokacu alien. And it was aiming its organic cannon at us.
his was the first time I had ever actually seen a Pokacu alien in real life. I mean, a live one. Back on Hero Island, in the Neohero Alliance Museum, there was a stuffed Pokacu on display, and I had of course seen the pictures and videos from the Pokacu invasion of 2002.
The reason I hadn't seen a live one before was because all of the Pokacu were supposed to have died during the invasion. Or at least, the Pokacu sent to invade Earth had all been killed off by the G-Men, NHA, and INJ. Some scientists theorized that there were still Pokacu somewhere out in space, probably somewhere out on their home world, but I had always been told that there had been no survivors on the enemy side of the conflict and that no other Pokacu had visited or invaded Earth since then.
But there was no mistaking the creature standing in the doorway of the escape pod as anything but a genuine Pokacu alien. It was tall and humanoid, with large, insectoid eyes that were impossible to read. The skin of its blue skin glistened, secreting some kind of foul-smelling goop that made it look awful. It wore a suit of metallic armor that I recognized as the space suits that Pokacu soldiers were always shown wearing in the pictures I saw, although its armor looked hastily repaired and cobbled together in certain areas, particularly around the arms and legs.
The Pokacu was aiming its organic hand cannon at me and Mom. I recognized it from the pictures. The articles I had read on the Internet about the Pokacu had told me that the aliens were capable of firing a weird, sticky smelly substance out of their hands that could pin someone to its surface, which basically worked as organic cannons. Its other hand, however, looked normal aside from the fact that it had only three long, spindly fingers instead of five normal ones.
Speaking of the 'weird, sticky smelly substance,' I am pretty sure that that was what the Pokacu had hit me with. It pinned me to the floor and was rapidly solidifying even as I lay there. I tried to sit up, but it was too thick for me to fight. I tried to remember what the Internet had told me about this stuff and then I remembered that it was what the aliens had used to capture people to hold as prisoner on their ships. It was also supposed to be poisonous to consume, or at least that was the dominant theory.
But I didn't care about that right now, because I was too busy staring at the Pokacu in shock. I thought my eyes had to be playing tricks on me or that this was some kind of illusion, but the alien standing before us looked every bit as real as Mom and me.
I looked over at Mom. She was backed up into the corner of her seat, like she was trying to make herself unnoticeable to the alien, but the Pokacu didn't even seem to notice her. It was looking at me, maybe because it thought I was the biggest threat or something, but I wasn't sure because it was impossible to know what it was thinking.
“K-Kevin?” Mom said. Her voice was very low and very afraid. “What … what is that?”
The Pokacu finally seemed to notice Mom was there, because it looked up at her. It took one step forward into the pod, but as soon as it did that, Mom screamed and threw her purse at it.
The purse hit the Pokacu square in the face, but that didn't seem to hurt it so much as annoyed it. It aimed its cannon at Mom and fired more of that sticky blue substance.
Mom tried to dodge it, but the substance struck Mom and stuck her to her seat. She tried to get up anyway, but the blue glue (which I remembered was what it was called) was solidifying even faster than mine was.
“Mom!” I shouted. “No!”
I heard movement in front of me and looked at the Pokacu again. It had bent over and picked up Mom's purse, which it was now examining as if it had never seen such a thing before. It opened the purse and examined its contents, but then made a weird grunting noise.
Then the Pokacu tapped a button on its armor. A compartment opened in its chest plate, into which it tossed the purse, which clanged from somewhere inside the compartment before the Pokacu tapped the button again and closed the compartment.
Huh. I didn't know that Pokacu liked purses.
But then I shook my head. I had to focus on the situation at hand, not think about this alien's weird habits. I tried to get up, but the blue glue was as solid as steel now. Maybe if I had had my super strength, I would have been able to break it, but because I was just an ordinary teen now, all I could do was uselessly struggle against it, and I gave up on that soon enough.
The Pokacu walked over to me, ignoring Mom, who looked like she was about to have a heart attack. The Pokacu stopped before me and pointed its organic hand cannon at my face, which I thought meant that it was going to shoot some of that blue glue into my face.
Suddenly, however, the Pokacu spoke. Its voice sounded gargled and strained, as if it was not used to speaking in English or even just speaking at all. And that was the weirdest part; real English words came from its mouth, though its pronunciation was slightly off.
“Are you a masked human?” said the Pokacu. Its voice sounded masculine, but I had no idea if Pokacu even had male and female sexes, but I decided to think of it as male anyway because that was easier than just thinking of it as an it all the time. “What powers do you have? And where did you get this Pokacu escape pod?”
“Masked human?” I repeated. “What do you mean?”
The Pokacu looked like he was searching for the right words. “Super person. Super … superhero. Yes, I think that is the word you humans use to describe humans like you, who wear strange costumes and can do things like fly and shoot lasers from your orbs. I mean eyes.”
The Pokacu sounded frustrated with his own lack of mastery and expertise over the English language, but I just found it amazing that he could speak English at all. If I had the time, I would have tried to remember if the Pokacu were said to have been able to speak English or any other Earth language, but I decided instead to focus on speaking with this guy. Maybe I could reason with him to let me and Mom go or at least take us to the nearest ship and drop us off there.
So I said, “Yes, I'm a superhero, but I—”
Without warning, the Pokacu kicked me in the face. The blow scrambled my senses for a moment before they recovered, but the pain was so intense that it felt like my skull had cracked. I groaned in pain, while Mom said, “Kevin!”
“Silence, female human,” said the Pokacu, looking up at Mom with the scariest glare I had seen on another living being's face before. “Or else I will dump you into the liquid that covers seventy percent of your planet's face. I mean surface.”
Mom closed her mouth, which was good because I didn't want her to get hurt by this alien.
Still, I worried that the Pokacu might try to harm her anyway, so I said, “Why did you kick me? I didn't even know you existed until today.”
“Superheroes like yourself slaughtered my people,” said the Pokacu. He leaned down closer to me, causing some of that strange blue sweat to drip off his face onto my own, which was disgusting, but I couldn't do anything about it. “And I suspect that you and the female are thieves who stole our technology. My ship's sensors picked up this pod going through the ocean, so I intercepted its path and took it aboard.”
“Thieves?” I said. “My mom and I are not thieves. We're actually running away from people who want to kill us.”
A look of surprise seemed to appear on the Pokacu's face. “Running away? As in, fleeing? From who? Was it my fellow Pokacu? Has the Mother World sent reinforcements at long last?”
The Pokacu actually sounded excited, but I had no idea what he meant by 'Mother World,' so I just said, “No. Other superheroes. Bad ones.”
The Pokacu's excitement vanished, replaced instead by obvious anger. “All superheroes are bad. Mass murderers and killers. That's what you are.”
“Listen, man, I don't know what you're talking about, because I've never committed mass murder,” I said. “So why don't you let me and my mom go? We're not your enemy. We don't want to harm you.”
The Pokacu shook his head and stood up. “No. I have spent a long time evading notice of your world's governments. If I let you go, you will just tell your fellow humans about me and everyone will try to capture or kill me. No, you and the female will stay here as my prisoners.”