Authors: Lucas Flint
Tags: #young adult, #superheroes
“Finders keepers, Genius,” said Mimic, his tone smug. He glanced around his chair to smirk at us. “You were just too slow to get it, even though you were on board it when it crashed.”
“You were?” I said, looking at Dad in amazement. “But I thought you had retired from superheroics before the invasion.”
“I briefly returned to superheroics to help fight off the invasion,” said Dad. “And yes, I was on this ship, trying to keep it from destroying New York City. Mimic was on it, too, and I punched him in the face because, if I recall correctly, he was under the control of the Pokacus' mind control serum at the time. It wore off eventually, however, so you don’t have to worry about Mimic being a secret Pokacu mole or anything like that.”
I noticed that Mimic didn't have anything to say about that. He just grunted and focused on the controls, which looked pretty complicated from what I could see of them.
“Nonetheless, it was a successful mission,” said Dad, “though it's been years since I last saw this ship. I knew the government had gotten their hands on it, but I haven't seen it since then. Where have you been keeping it, Mimic? Area Fifty-One?”
“None of your business,” said Mimic. “The location of the
is top secret.”
“So how long will it take for us to get to the Compound?” I said.
“Three hours, assuming we do not run into any obstacles on the way there,” said Mimic. “And no, do not make any smart alecky comments about whether we have an in-flight movie or peanuts, because we do not.”
“Really?” I said. “This is going to be one boring ride, then.”
“It isn't meant to be exciting,” said Mimic. “In fact, 'exciting' is the absolute last thing you should want from this mission. We are only to go to the Compound and nothing else.”
I nodded, but then a horrible thought occurred to me. “If we're going to be flying, how will we evade Robert, if he comes after us? He took my powers and that includes my power of flight. He could catch up with us and knock us out of the sky if he wanted.”
“Firstly, Robert Candle does not know that we are transporting you and your family to safety,” said Mimic in a matter of fact tone. “So even if he wanted to catch us, he couldn't. And secondly, the
has a cloaking ability that allows it to turn invisible to the naked eye and most radar systems. Even if Candle is flying around the sky searching for us, he would not be able to find us unless he flew smack dab into the ship itself.”
“Oh, that's good to hear,” I said, but Mimic apparently wasn't done talking.
“And furthermore, even if by some cruel twist of fate he found the ship, the
has a unique mixture of Pokacu and Earth weapons and defenses that would knock him out of the sky before he even knew what happened,” Mimic continued. “Missiles, lasers, electrical force fields, and a variety of other defenses would make any exterior assault on the ship nigh impossible for most neoheroes. Even Omega Man himself would have a tough time taking this baby down if he tried to attack us.”
“So what, exactly, does the
have?” I said.
“That is top secret,” said Mimic, “but trust me when I say that you will be quite happy to be a passenger inside it if we find ourselves under attack by Candle or one of the Visionists.”
Mimic sounded very confident in the
's abilities, which made me feel safe, but Dad said, “If I recall correctly, didn't Omega Man destroy the most Pokacu ships during the invasion?”
“Yes, but that was before we improved ours,” said Mimic. “Anyway, enough talking. We are about to take off, so hold on tight.”
shook and shivered around us. Mom and I grabbed our straps tighter, while Dad looked as cool and unconcerned as always.
Then, slowly but surely, the
started rising up into the air. There weren't any windows for me to look out of, so I could not see much, except for the small view of New York City that the front windshield provided, although even that was covered with a projection of a bunch of writing and numbers and lines that made no sense to me but which did not seem to confuse Mimic in the slightest.
Then Mimic pressed a few buttons and the ship took off to the east, heading toward the Atlantic Ocean.
I got bored pretty quick. While it was pretty cool flying in a re-purposed alien spaceship to a secret government facility, it was only cool for maybe the first ten minutes of the flight. Then I started to find the engine noises, wind turbulence, and Mimic's mutterings about stupid teenagers annoying and boring.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much to do on the ship. Mimic insisted that all passengers remain in their seats until we got to the Compound (which was apparently somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; either that or Mimic was just going to drop us into the Ocean and let us swim back to America), so I had to stay in my seat. Mom and Dad took this time to rest, so I couldn't even talk with them. And Mimic certainly wasn't in any mood to talk; he was focused on the controls and the maps (which was what I figured the lines, words, and numbers on the windshield were) in front of him. That was good, obviously, because as the pilot he had to focus on that stuff so he wouldn't crash us into the Ocean, which would kind of defeat the whole purpose of the Relocation Program.
But that left me with practically nothing to do. I tried to watch something on my watch, which had Internet connectivity, but unfortunately there seemed to be some kind of interference because I couldn't get any connection in here at all. Either we were flying through a part of the world that had no Internet connectivity or there was something on the ship blocking all Internet signals in and out of the ship.
So I did what any bored teenager in my situation would do: Ask Mimic if we were there yet.
“Are we there yet?” I said.
“No,” said Mimic, without looking at me. “We are not.”
“When will we get there?” I said.
“Two hours,” said Mimic. “Longer if you keep asking me stupid questions.”
That shut me up. I just reclined in my seat and decided to try to catch up on my sleep, but the problem was that I wasn't very tired and couldn't even sleep if I tried. The seat wasn't very comfortable anyway and the
kept shaking every now and then. Despite being an allegedly high-tech alien spaceship, it was easily the bumpiest vehicle I had ever had the displeasure of riding. I wondered if that was because it was always like that or if this was the result of whatever adjustments that the G-Men made to it.
I wondered what everyone else was doing. I hoped that Malcolm was okay; I doubted Robert would go after him again, especially if Malcolm's family had protection, but given how crazy Robert was, I wouldn't put it past him to try again. And I worried about the rest of the Young Neos, too, because if I couldn't beat Robert, I doubted any of them could, either.
It made me wonder where Robert was right now anyway. Despite Mimic's assurances that we would be safe, I couldn't help but worry that we were actually very vulnerable. Every shake, every jerk of the
made me wonder if that was Robert landing on its exterior or using one of his many stolen powers to attack it.
It was a nerve-wracking experience. I didn't even know how Mom and Dad slept. Dad, I could understand, since he still had his super intelligence and gear and gizmos, but Mom was just as powerless as me and yet she slept just as soundly as Dad. Maybe she felt safe around Dad or maybe she was just so exhausted from the stress of the situation that she couldn’t stay awake no matter what.
But then I remembered that I actually did have someone who I could talk to. I raised my hand to my earcom and tapped it twice.
Then I heard a familiar, cool female voice said, “Hello, Bolt. It has been a while since we last spoke.”
“Hi, Valerie,” I said, referring by name to the AI assistant to Dad, who had also helped me several times in the past. But I whispered quietly so that I would not wake my parents or annoy Mimic, who was now humming some kind of old 80's song I didn't recognize but which sounded really lame. “I didn't know you'd connect up here, because my suit-up watch can't connect to the Internet.”
“My AI allows me to do things that normal Internet enabled devices cannot,” said Valerie. “Besides, I have experience hacking into Pokacu alien technology and the G-Men did not do much to fix the easily exploitable flaws in the Pokacu's defense systems.”
“You mean you've been around that long?” I whispered in surprise. “I thought Dad had built you recently.”
“Technically, that was Valerie 1.0,” said Valerie. “I am Valerie 6.9, the latest incarnation of the Valerie series of artificial intelligence assistants, though I have all the memories and experiences of the last incarnations stored in my systems.”
“So you've known Dad for a while,” I whispered. “I didn't know that.”
“Prior to our first meeting, your father only ever really used me in his work-related software,” said Valerie, “though he made me compatible with the Genius suit in case he needed help, even though he designed and built me after he retired from superheroics.”
“Cool,” I said. “So you know all sorts of things about Dad that I don't.”
“Yes,” said Valerie. “But may I ask why you have contacted me? My sensors indicate that you and your parents are currently being transported across the Atlantic Ocean by the G-Men. Do you need help?”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. I glanced at the ceiling. “You know about Robert Candle, right?”
“Yes,” said Valerie. “Your father told me about him. Is he attacking you now?”
“No,” I said. “Mimic says the
can cloak itself well enough that Robert couldn't find us. So we're probably going to make it to the Compound without any difficulty.”
“I see,” said Valerie. “And all of the news sites I've checked, including Neo Ranks, do not have any news on Robert's current location. Perhaps he has given up attacking you.”
“I doubt it,” I said. “Robert wants me dead. He made that very clear the last time I saw him. There's no way he would just let me get away. He's probably just keeping his head down so the G-Men and NHA don't find—”
I was interrupted by a sudden lurch to the right. It was so abrupt that I probably would have been thrown out of my seat entirely if I had not been strapped in. The sudden lurch also woke Mom and Dad, who were now looking around in confusion.
“What was that?” said Dad, who sounded sleepy. “Mimic? Did your grip on the controls slip?”
“It wasn't me,” Mimic snapped. “It must have been a powerful gust of wind or something. Do you hear it?”
I listened hard and did, in fact, hear howling wind outside. It didn't sound like the normal wind from flying. It almost sounded like a tornado, but that made no sense because we were out in the middle of the ocean and tornadoes don't form in the ocean.
“Well, just be more careful with the controls anyway,” said Dad as Mom yawned beside him. “If this ship goes down, we’ll go down with it.”
“I know, I know, I am no amateur,” said Mimic in annoyance. “Just give me a moment and—”
All of a sudden, a loud crunching sound came from the back of the ship. I tried to look over my shoulder at the back to see if I could spot what caused that sound, but then the ship violently shook again, forcing me to grab more tightly onto my seat's arms so I would not be thrown off.
“I heard a crunching sound,” said Dad. He sounded worried. “Mimic, did you hear—”
“I heard it, but it isn't anything worth worrying about,” said Mimic, though he sounded even more worried than Dad. “I will send a quick message to the Compound telling them we may be a bit late, but rest assured that there is absolutely nothing to worry—”
Mimic was interrupted by a loud howl of wind followed by the most violent shake yet. Actually, it felt like the ship had been punched by a giant fist, because it was sent spinning before it started falling downwards toward the big, wide, blue ocean below at frightening speeds.
om was screaming. Dad was screaming. And I was probably screaming, too. Heck, maybe even Valerie was, but I was screaming too loudly to pay attention to her voice in my earcom.
Mimic, however, was not screaming, even though we were falling at approximately one million miles an hour toward an ocean that was looking increasingly closer with each passing second.
“Not to fear!” Mimic shouted, his voice somehow audible above the volume of our screams. “Hang on! It will be a bumpy landing!”
I was about to ask Mimic what we were supposed to 'land' on when we hit the water. Gallons of salt water sprayed over the front windshield, temporarily blocking out the rest of the world. I expected us to go straight down underwater and then drown to death, but to my surprise, the
just floated on the surface of the ocean, though the waves made the floor shift and turn under our feet.
“There,” said Mimic. He looked over his shoulder at us with the smuggest smirk I had ever seen on another human being's face. “See? I told you there was nothing to worry about.”
“How … how did you do that?” I said, my heart hammering in my chest.
“Through expert piloting skills,” said Mimic, again very smugly. “No other pilot in the world could have pulled off what I did. We are safe.”
Mom and Dad had stopped screaming, but Mom now looked very sick. It was hard to tell what Dad looked like due to his helmet, but I could tell that he was obviously rattled by our near death experience.
He unbuckled his straps and jumped off his chair. Standing up, Dad said, “Mimic, what happened? How did we get knocked out of the sky? I thought you said we were safe in here.”
“Just some kind of freak act of nature or something,” said Mimic. “I mean, it isn't exactly uncommon for there to be powerful winds over the Atlantic, you know. You should just be happy that you were blessed to have a pilot as good as me. Otherwise, we would all be underwater right now and, I don't know what your suit can do, but my shape-shifting powers don't let me create gills.”