Trials: Part Thirty Two

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Jude sat in the kitchen with Deven and Ashley. It was already Friday, and Arte said Zoey had’t made any noteworthy improvement after the first day. He had faith in Paul, and if Paul said Zoey could take him, he trusted him. However, that still didn’t mean he didn’t want someone there to provide backup. He was doubtful that Daniels would approve all three of them to go, but he figured he could get at least one of them there. Paul had also been remarkably unspecific when he said to go to ‘the mall’ on Saturday. He wasn’t sure what mall, or when Saturday to be there.

Deven seemed to be eager to get out of the house. He said something about wanting to go to a gardening store to get some new seeds.

Jude’s phone began to buzz. Arte and Deven both went silent, and Jude picked up the phone.

“Hello?”

“Yeah, this is Daniels. Why do all three of you need to be at the mall tomorrow?”

“Well, Zoey, the neighbor girl, has a big test today, and we wanted to take her out to celebrate.”

“Alright, but isn’t Arte the one tutoring her?”

“Well, yeah, but-”

“So wouldn’t it make more sense for her to take her out?”

“Well, I mean, we all know her though, so-”

“Alright. It sounds to me like you just want an excuse to get out of the house. I’ll approve Arte for tomorrow, but that’s it. I don’t want you or Deven to be out while the impostor is still at large.”

“Come on, it’s been like a week and a half-”

“That’s my final decision. Goodbye Jude.” Daniels hung up without another word.

Jude lowered the phone and sighed. While this was about what he was expecting, it was still getting to him to be stuck in the house so much. He wondered if Daniels would ease up or double down after they caught the impostor.

“Well, that didn’t exactly sound like good news. What’d he say?” Arte asked.

“It was about what I expected. He only approved you, Arte.”

“No!” Deven shouted and slammed his fist on the counter, leaving a dent.

Arte jumped back, and Jude stood up. He needed to defuse this quick.

“Hey, Deven, I know you’re upset, but-” Jude started

“No! She always gets to leave! She’s left every day! It’s not fair!” Deven was panting now, and swatting at the air.

“Deven, you have to understand-” Jude edged closer, and narrowly dodged a swing of Deven’s arm.

“No! I want to leave! I hate this house!”

“I know…” Jude edged closer again, and Deven watched cautiously. “But I’ll be stuck here with you, we could-”

“No!” Deven swung his arms wildly, and Jude went flying into a cabinet, knocking it off the wall and sending plates flying.

Jude looked up, and saw Arte standing over him. She looked panicked. He stood up and dusted himself off. He was surprised at how little that hurt. He figured it was most likely shock, because that had to have at least broken a rib. He gave Arte a firm pat on the shoulder, and as comforting of a look as he could.

“No! I want to go!” Deven shouted.

Jude had an idea. After the last incident with Deven during the house raid, he realized that he was going to need to be prepared to deal with super powered tantrums and meltdowns, so he did some research.

He went to the fridge, and ignored Deven’s shouting. He pulled out a box of leftover pizza that he had ordered a couple of days ago, and put two pieces in the microwave.

“What are you doing?” Deven was still panting, but had stopped hitting things.

Jude grabbed a plate that was still in tact from the wreckage of the cabinet, and pulled the pizza from the microwave. He moved the plate over to the island, picked a piece up, and began eating.

Deven approached, and looked down at the pizza.

“Do you want some?” Jude asked as casually as he could. His heart was racing, but this was the best plan he could muster.

Deven thought for a moment and then nodded.

“Alright.” Jude slid the plate over to Deven, and ate his own slice.

After a couple of minutes, Deven and Jude had both finished their pizza. Jude looked to Deven, and saw that he had calmed down considerably.

“Alright, tomorrow, you and I will order a fresh pizza, and have a movie day.”

Deven nodded.

“I know you wanted to go to the mall too, but after Arte takes care of this with Zoey, we’ll be able to leave the house again, okay?”

Deven nodded again.

Jude was aware that he very well could be wrong about that statement, but he wasn’t sure how long he could keep this up. Deven was getting just as stir-crazy as him, and something was gonna have to change. After this, Daniels would just have to understand.

Jude was about to start cleaning up the wreckage of the cabinet, but heard the doorbell. He went to the door and saw a man with a package. He opened the door and smiled.

“Hey, delivery from Mr. Smith.” The man handed off the package. “Also, he mentioned that you had noticed some bugs around the house. I’m really an exterminator,” he winked, ”And he wanted me to take the package with me. More efficient I guess. Now a bad time?”

Jude looked behind him, and shrugged. “About as good of a time as any.”

“Alright, I’ll run out to my car real quick, and me and my coworker will take care of it. Those bugs won’t know what hit ‘em.” He winked again, and ran back out to the car.

Jude sat the package on a table, and opened it. Inside was a some kind of white uniform. It looked similar to his Dayspring uniform, but it was smaller, and had some kind of armor on parts of it.

“Thank you, Mr. Smith.” He muttered, before replacing it in the box. “Arte, Zoey’s present is here!” He called into the house.


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Apologies for last week’s post being delayed. They rearranged the scheduling calendar on the wordpress site, so I’ve pressed the wrong day a few times! This one’s definitely good on my end, so hopefully it’s posted Friday at noon.

Hope you enjoyed. I don’t do the after-post bits every time, but things are starting to ramp up, so if you’re just joining us and debating on whether it’s worth it to read the backlog, trust me, it is! Have a great weekend.

Trials: Part Thirty One

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Vanessa, Ashley, and Darryl all sat by the fire. Darryl had prepared a stew out of some meat that he hunted, and some herbs he had found. While it wasn’t gourmet, it was much better than Ashley had expected. They ate carefully using some pieces of one of Vanessa’s disks as utensils. Having full stomachs now, everyone seemed to be in far better spirits. She was certainly thankful for that.

“So, Darryl, where are you from?” Ashley asked. He had something of an accent so she figured he had to be British or Australian.

“South Africa.” He nodded.

“Oh, wow.” She nodded. “Vanessa and I are both from Atlanta. Well, I was actually born in New York, but yeah.”

Vanessa shot Ashley a look, as she said that she was from Atlanta. She wasn’t quite sure what she did wrong, but she mouthed ‘sorry’.

“So how did you get your ‘training’, or whatever that guy was talking about?” Vanessa asked. “Were you in the military or something?

“I was in the military for a little, yeah. Then the British took a liking to me, so they took me to train for an ‘off the books strike team’. That was what they called it.” He scoffed. “I did that until they were done with us. I learned that off the books meant that when we had done our jobs, we didn’t get a pension or decent wages. So I had to do contract work. From there, you know the rest.”

“That’s awful what they did to you…” Ashley shook her head. “Do you have a family?”

“Well, I couldn’t tell you.” He looked down and shook his head. “I haven’t been home, or heard from my parents in over twenty years. I don’t have a wife and kids or anything, if that’s what you meant.”

“Oh, I’m sorry…” Ashley was quiet for a moment. It seemed like they were just digging up bad memories for him. Her parents always loved her, and she had always had them. Sure it was a little rocky when she came out, but they came around eventually.

“Well, you girls are young. What do you have waiting for you in Atlanta?”

Ashley winced a little, she’d been trying to avoid that topic. She figured she should stall as long as possible, and gestured to Vanessa.

Vanessa sighed, and looked over to the fire. “I’m not even sure what’s waiting for me… I stormed out, and said I was going to go ‘find myself’. My boyfriend broke up with me, and went on a vacation with another girl. It’s also kinda weird how many connections my dad has from this place, so I’m not even sure what’s going on with him.” She wiped her eye and looked back to them. “Yeah, I’m kind a mess.”

“Well, speaking from experience, if you’re not happy with how you left things, you should probably go fix them.” He shook his head. “My mother tried to stop me from leaving, and I said some awful things to her… I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again, so don’t carry regrets with you.”

“Yeah. I know I should… I guess I have to get back first.” They all went silent again. “Well, what about you Ashley? You went quiet.”

Ashley wiped a tear from her eye. She really hadn’t wanted to think about this, so she felt like an idiot for bringing up the question. “Well, I guess I don’t know what’s waiting for me… I had a great girlfriend, but I’ve been gone for so long she’s probably found someone else. I’ve probably lost my job…” Ashley looked up and realized what she said. Her face went red, and her heart was racing.

She was trying not to say that. Arte had always told her she needed to be more careful who she outed herself to. Her heart raced and tears started flowing down her face. She heard Vanessa get up, and she tensed up. She felt an arm around her.

“Hey, it’s alright,” Vanessa said. “You’re an amazing person, I’m sure she wouldn’t give up so easily. If you’re worried about your job, I’m sure my dad can take care of it.”

She over at Darryl, and saw he hadn’t moved, and looked unfazed. “Do you guys not-” She sniffled, “Not care that I’m gay?”

“That doesn’t change anything as far as I’m concerned.” Vanessa hugged her.

She looked over at Darryl, and he looked mildly surprised. “Oh, me? I grew up in South Africa during apartheid. I travelled the world, and saw that we are all human. There is no sense in discriminating on things.”

Ashley leaned into Vanessa, and couldn’t help but laugh a little. She knew they were good people, so there was no need to worry after all. After a few minutes, she pulled herself up, and wiped off her face.

“I guess we should talk about what we do now, huh?” Vanessa said, looking off into the fire again.

“Well, we got lucky coming out by a river. If we follow it downstream, we should eventually find a city, or the ocean.” Darryl nodded.

“Yeah, but what about all the people still in the prison?” Ashley asked. She was glad to have made it out, but wasn’t ready to abandon the people in there.

“That’s a good point.” Darryl nodded.

“Well, but right now, nobody knows about it. So if we were to go in, and we were to fail, then nobody would get to go home.” Vanessa replied.

“Well, the thing about that is that since we escaped, and they won’t find our bodies in there, they will realize we have gotten away. After that they will have to move the prison. Depending on how fast we move, they might not have time to move everyone, but at least half of those people in there would have no chance then.” Darryl shook his head. “That’s if anyone survives Takeo’s wrath when they figure it out. I figure we have at least a couple of days before they figure out we’re gone.”

“He’s right…” Ashley shook her head. “We have to go back.”

“I think you two should go downstream. You’re young, and you have lives waiting for you back home.” Darryl looked off into the woods. “I’m old, and I have nobody waiting for my return. Not to mention your lack of combat training.”

“Well, actually, I have some combat experience. Not like you, of course, but I did a little bit of superhero work.”

“Well, that settles it.” Ashley got to her feet. “We’ll all go. That gives us the best odds.”

“Alright, well, I won’t turn down the help.” Darryl stood as well. “However, I’d suggest you go to sleep. I will take watch.”

“Wake me up to switch off with you at some point, Darryl.” Vanessa stood and looked around for a second. “So where are we sleeping?”

Darryl laughed. “Find a patch of dry ground that looks soft. Some people like leaves for cushion, I prefer dirt. Less pokey.”


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Trials: Part Thirty

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Arte sat on the concrete floor of Zoey’s unfinished basement. Her dad had said this would probably be the best place to train, since he wasn’t too worried about sweeping up salt from it. She was reading Jude’s notebook, but it honestly seemed like it was all common sense. She thought he had said he was a professional trainer for some rich guy’s daughter, so she assumed he would know what he was doing, but the instructions were more or less as follows:

First, see what she has already gotten down. Second, get her to be able to make a rock out of salt. Third, see if she can make the rock go faster than just throwing it. Fourth, see if she can make a salt sword? Maybe a wall of salt? If you run into any problems just think of it in a different way.

Arte sighed. She had honestly expected something more detailed. It looked like she was gonna need to start from scratch. Jude had some good goals. Ideally, if Zoey was gonna fight someone with potentially any power, she would need offensive melee and ranged capabilities, along with some form of defense. It might be a challenge to get all of that together in four days. She didn’t trust Paul’s statement that she didn’t even need training at all. She couldn’t believe that guy was going to be her last bet to find Ashley.

“Alright, Zoey. To start off, I want you to show me everything you’ve worked out so far.” She pulled out a pen to take notes.

“Alright. It’s not gonna be very impressive.” She gulped, and took a deep breath.

Zoey took a step back, and concentrated. A rock of salt began to form in her hand. After about thirty seconds, she had one the size of a baseball. She shifted her grip, and the whole thing fell into dust.

She sighed and hung her head. “Ta-da.”

“That wasn’t bad! It’s not like your powers came with an instruction manual.” Arte got to her feet. She felt bad for the girl, because Arte’s powers had, in fact, come with an instruction manual. “Can you do it again?”

Zoey nodded, and repeated the process. This time it stayed for a second before falling apart.

Arte nodded. According to Jude she needed to ‘think of it in a different way’, whatever that meant. She thought back to her chemistry classes. Salt, as a crystal, forms an intricate lattice, so it would naturally take time to construct. Zoey seemed to be taking her time and concentrating, so if it was going to be useful by Saturday, that had to be the wrong approach. She couldn’t believe Paul was giving them three days to do this.

“Alright… So when you try to make a larger crystal, it looks like you’re straining yourself. I think I have an idea.” She pulled out the notebook. “So when you want to draw a straight line, it’s usually best to just take one quick stroke, than to take your time and try to draw the perfect line. When you take too long, you end up with a squiggly line, instead of something almost straight. So it’s possible that your powers are like that. Why don’t you try loosening up, and doing it quickly?”

“Alright…” Zoey took a deep breath, and swung her arm, like she was pitching a softball. Something solid flew out of her hand, and made a crack as it hit the wall. It clattered to the floor, and broke into a few large pieces.

Arte picked one up and examined it. It was an opaque chunk of solid crystal. She tried to crush it with her hand, but it held up. Arte smiled with satisfaction. “Take a look at this.” She placed the crystal in Zoey’s hand.

“Alright! I did it!” She jumped up and down with excitement. “I’ve been trying so long! I didn’t think I’d ever figure it out! Thank you so much!” She wrapped her arms around Arte.

Arte was caught off guard, but reciprocated. “Hey, it’s you doing the work, I’m just over here talking.”

“Alright, what now?”

“Okay, so I want you to try to make something bigger. Like a wall big enough that you could hide behind it.”

“Gotcha…” Zoey crouched down, and put her hands on the ground. She sprang up to her feet, and two separate towers of crystal formed.

Arte was about to congratulate her, but noticed Zoey was starting to stumble back. She ran up behind her and caught her, as she began to fall back. “Are you okay?”

Zoey slowly looked up to Arte. Her face was red. “I’m fine, just a little light headed.”

“Alright, let’s call it there, and maybe we can get back to this tomorrow.”

“Okay.” She got to her feet, and took a couple of steps, before stumbling and being caught again.

“How about I carry you upstairs, okay?” Arte scooped Zoey up in her arms and made her way to the couch upstairs. She was nearing the edge of her stamina, but made it just fine. She gently laid her on the couch, and took a seat next to her.

Zoey regained consciousness, and started to sit up, but Arte stopped her.

“Hey, it’s alright. Just lay back down. I think your dad left, but I’ll stay with you.”

“Thanks.” Zoey yawned.

“I’m sorry, I think I pushed you too hard. We’ll keep it small next time.”

Arte waited by her for a few minutes, and she seemed to have largely recovered. She got up from the couch and went towards the kitchen. “Alright stay there, I’m going to make a couple of phone calls.”

First she called Zoey’s dad, but he didn’t pick up. She called him again, and after he didn’t pick up, she left a message.

“Hey, Mr. Rodriguez. This is Arte. I just wanted to let you know your daughter fainted while we were training, I think I pushed her too hard. She’s fine now, but I’ll stay with her until you get home.”

She then pulled out her notebook, and dialed the second number. It rang for a moment, then someone picked up.

“David Smith, who’s this?”

“Hi Mr. Smith, I’m a friend of Jude’s, and I’m helping him with this case. He wanted me to let you know we’d need a couple of favors…”


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Trials: Part Twenty Nine

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Vanessa climbed onto a large pink disc, and carefully floated upwards. She had to move around some to avoid trees, but before long she was above the treeline. She looked out and saw green trees as far as she could see. She had hoped there would be some kind of civilization, or that they’d at least be able to see the prison, but there was nothing. Not too far from her was a hole in the trees. She couldn’t quite make out what it was, but hoped it would be water or someone’s house. She took note of what direction it was in, and floated back down.

She saw Darryl and Ashley, waiting patiently on the ground.

“So, what did you see?” Darryl asked.

“There’s no cities or anything nearby, I can’t even see the prison from here.” She shook her head. “There’s something not too far from here. It might be water, or something.” She pointed in the direction of the clearing.

“Alright. Let’s go, then.” Darryl began to walk, but stopped in his tracks. “Can I have one of my knives? I want to mark a tree, so we can find the pit if we need to.”

Vanessa shook her head. “We’ll leave a trail, like we did throughout the cave.”

“I’m not sure about that, someone could follow us.” Darryl replied.

“I’m not sure about giving you a weapon, so this is our best bet. Nobody will follow us.” Vanessa led on to the clearing.

They walked for about thirty minutes, until they reached the clearing. The forest was overgrown here, and it was difficult for them to make their way through the brush. They finally arrived at a river. It was about twenty feet wide here, but seemed to narrow about a hundred feet upstream and downstream.

Darryl approached the water’s edge, and stared into it. After a moment, he dipped his finger in, and tasted it. After a moment he nodded, and smiled. “Fresh water, this is good. I will get a fire going.” He started to move, but paused, and turned to Vanessa. “Actually, before that, I want to know why you do not trust me. You read my mind, and saw my story was true. What do you want?”

“I don’t know…” Vanessa looked to Ashley. “What do you think?”

“He’s always been nice, but you’re the one who read his mind. Was he telling the truth?”

Vanessa looked off to the side. He was telling the truth, but she couldn’t stop thinking of all of the ways he could betray them. Especially if they let him have his stuff back. It was possible that this was all a trap set by Takeo. On the other hand, it sounded like he had some amount of survival skills, which she certainly didn’t have. They probably couldn’t make it without him.

“Alright, fine. You’re right. I trust you.” She nodded. She had to, or else they didn’t stand a chance.

“Alright. Good.” Darryl nodded. “I am going to get a fire going. Can you make anything besides a disc out of the pink stuff?”

“No…” She shook her head. She’d tried before, back in training with Jude, but they were never able to make any other shapes.

“When you break it, it turns to glass though, yes?”

“Well, I don’t know that it’s actually glass, but something like it, yeah.”

“Good. While I’m getting a fire going, I want you to see if water passes through it when it isn’t broken.”

“Okay?” Vanessa went up to the river, and made a disc. She dipped it in, and saw the water go around it. “Nope, water doesn’t pass through.” She called back to him.

“Great. Give me a few minutes.”

Darryl cleared off the dirt, and made a pile of dead pine needles, with a triangle of wood around it. He also made a decently large pile of sticks off to the side.

“Alright, give me a disc.” Darryl held out his hand, and Vanessa gave him one.

Darryl looked up into the sky, and held the disk over the pine needles. After a few moments, the pine needles began to smoke. Soon enough, he had a small fire going. He looked to Vanessa, “Alright, I need you to go cut some firewood using your powers. Pick any of the smaller trees and cut it so they won’t fall on you. Do it over there so they don’t fall on me either, I will call if I need you.” He turned to Ashley. “You help her, and bring me wood as she cuts it.”

After about an hour of work, Vanessa had cut a good stack of firewood. She was about to start on another tree, when she heard Darryl.

“Vanessa, come here! I need your help.”

“Coming!” She made her way back to camp, and saw that Darryl had a good sized fire going. It had been a bit since they came out of the cave, and she was starting to get really thirsty. “I appreciate the fire, but could we maybe get some water?”

“Well, first we have to purify it, since just drinking that,” he pointed to the river, “could kill you from dysentery.”

“Alright, how do we do that?”

“First make a disc that’s about two feet wide. Then I want you to hover it over the fire. I want to see if we can get it to melt into being a bowl.” Darryl stepped back from the fire.

Vanessa complied with his request, and hovered the disc over the fire. After a while, the center started to droop.

“Alright, now move it off of the fire…” Darryl moved out of the way. “Towards the river, but don’t put it in.”

A few minutes passed, and the disc drooped a little more, then stopped.

“Alright, now gently lower it in…”

Vanessa gently lowered it into the river. The water sizzled as it made contact, and eventually it was fully submerged. After a few moments, Vanessa levitated the disc out of the water, and back to shore.

“Great! We have a bowl!” Darryl smiled. “Now, we need to fill it up about halfway with water, and bring it to a boil.”

Vanessa groaned. She was so thirsty, but if this would get her water, she would do it. The sun was starting to get lower now, and by the time she had the water boiled and cooled, it was almost dark. They all drank up, and sat around the fire.


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Trials: Part Twenty Eight

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Arte laid back on her bed and sighed. This was definitely not how she was expecting this to go. She went to Jude for help finding Ash, and now she’s on house arrest, and helping Jude clear his name. She’s also about to start training an actual child on how to use superpowers, in order to send her to fight someone, because they were all on house arrest. She was amazed that Jude was not only on board with this plan, but that he came up with it.

Jude said that she had to be the one to actually train Zoey, because it seemed more believable for her to go over to Zoey’s regularly than for him. She told Daniels that she’d be tutoring her, and he seemed to buy it. He gave her approval to go over every day for a couple of hours.

She wondered if she was ever gonna find Ashley. At this rate, it didn’t seem like it. Even if Paul came back to help, it wasn’t like she could actually leave the house. How was she supposed to find her if she was on house arrest? She wondered if it was a mistake to even come here, but stopped herself. It was too late for worrying about it now. She was here, and this was her circumstance. She could deal with it, or not, and she needed to deal with it.

She heard a knock on her door and opened it. It was Jude, and he had a notebook in his hand.

“Good luck tutoring!” He smiled, and handed her the notebook.

She skimmed the first page, and saw Jude had left her a to do list. He wanted her to make a couple of phone calls. One as soon as she got there, and some others after. She looked at the first name and number, and Arte’s heart skipped a beat. She was finally going to be able to talk to Paul, and make some progress on finding Ash. A thought popped to mind. Why hadn’t they just called him to begin with? He had to have a reason, but still. She shook her head, she didn’t have time for this right now. “Well. I guess I’d better get going.”

“Yeah, it’s about that time.” He moved out of the doorway. “See you!”

Arte made her way over to Zoey’s house, and knocked on the door. After a few moments, Mr. Rodriguez answered.

“Arte, come on in! It’s good to see you.”

Arte smiled and entered the foyer. She was surprised to see him so happy about this. Actually, she was surprised that he was even partly on board with this idea.

“Zoey isn’t here yet, but please make yourself at home.” He led her into the den, and sat in an armchair across from her.

“Sorry, but do you mind if I ask how you’re okay with Zoey doing superhero stuff?”

“Oh, yeah. That probably sounds a little strange.” He nodded. “Well, I hold a philosophy that once a kid is of the age that they want to do something, they’re just going to do it. You can either be with them and make sure they’re staying safe, or they’ll sneak around you and get hurt. I’ve known for a while about her powers, but I was waiting for her to tell me. I’m just glad she’ll get some proper training before she gets hurt. As far as danger goes, when I was 14 I was working in a factory where people died on the job every week.”

“Wow. I wish I had parents with that philosophy…” Arte recalled the time that she was literally thrown out of the house for getting a short haircut. Her dad picked her up, and tossed her out the door. She came back to reality and remembered what Jude had said. “Oh, would you mind if I made a call? They probably have our phone bugged, so we’re trying to keep this low-key.”

“Sure, the phone’s in the kitchen.” He pointed in the direction of the kitchen.

Arte went to the phone, and pulled out the notebook. She took a deep breath and punched in the number. It rang for a moment, and someone picked up.

“Hello?” A man replied. It sounded like he was somewhere in public, she could hear people talking in the background.

“Hi, is this…” She looked down at the notebook again, “Paul Darbyshire?”

“That’s me. Who’s this?”

“Hi, I’m Arte, I’m friends with-”

“Arte with the short hair and undercut, living in a room with my keyboard and computer?”

Arte stammered for a moment. She wondered if Paul had the place bugged, or if he was just that good. “Yeah? How did you know that?”

“That’s a long story. Which thing are you calling about?”

“Um…” Arte paused for a moment. “Well, my friend, she’s gone missing, and-”

“Yeah, your girlfriend? With the brown hair?”

“Yes?” Arte’s heart was racing again. If he knew who she was, he had to have seen her.

“Is that the only thing you’re calling about?”

“Well, no. There’s also this problem. Jude and I are on house arrest basically, and there’s an impostor super running around. There’s this girl in the house next door-”

“Hispanic, young teen, salt powers?”

Arte scoffed, who was this guy? How did he know everything? “I’m sorry, but the interrupting is kinda obnoxious.”

“Sorry. I have to be careful what I tell you, and I don’t want to waste time. Let’s see…” He paused for a moment and sipped something. “Alright, your girlfriend is fine. Well, she’s not fine, but there’s nothing you can do about that yet, and she’s fine enough.”

“Wait, what?” Arte’s heart felt like it was about to explode. “You know where she is?”

“No, but I will. Anyways, you did just say interrupting was obnoxious. Use the salt girl, she’ll be fine. Send her to the mall this Saturday. She doesn’t even really need training for this. Is that all? I need to get going soon.”

“Wait, I have so many questions!” Arte couldn’t just let this guy hang up.

“Look, if I tell you anything else, then things won’t go right for you, and I won’t get falafel. You also forget that you’re basically a stranger to me. Bye”

The phone clicked off, and Arte stared down in disbelief. What the hell was his problem? What did he mean she didn’t need training?

“Dad, I’m home!” Zoey called from the foyer.


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I have my new stuff up and running now. WordPress has changed its editor too, so I’m also learning that. Please let me know if anything is off about this, or any of my other posts. I think I’ve worked out a new system, but can’t quite be sure. Anyways, hope you enjoyed!

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Trials: Part Twenty Seven

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Anastasia had been heading up the cleaning project for what had to have been at least a month. She had to devote most of her attention to managing the project, but she had finally carved out a day to do some digging. She had Siobhan use magic to disguise herself as Anastasia, in order to throw off any suspicion. She wasn’t sure how much Adara would approve of her poking around, so she had to be careful. Coombre had spent some of his downtime managing to locate what he called a secret section of the library. Most importantly they had both sworn to keep quiet.

Anastasia donned a hooded robe, and made her way to the library. She had been before, but it was still amazing. She had never seen so many books in one place. There were four floors, and all of them were packed with shelves so tall that you needed a ladder to reach the top. Anastasia was surprised that there were even this many books. She had perused some of them before, and there was every kind of book imaginable. They had fiction that she recognized, textbooks, and books in languages she’d never seen. Not all of it was books, some of it seemed to be research put in binders.

She found Coombre standing by a shelf of cookbooks on the first floor.

“Alright, where’s the ‘secret section’?” She asked. She didn’t see anything of note here, so she wondered what he was doing standing here.

“I found it while I was poking around. I saw a book that looked to be sticking out a little, and when I went to fix it…” He stretched up and pushed a book into the bookcase. The bookcase began to slide downwards, eventually revealing a doorway.

They went in, and saw a medium sized room, with about twenty bookshelves and a large desk in the middle. The desk didn’t have anything on it, except for the dust which had accumulated. Anastasia opened one of the drawers and found a menagerie of writing utensils, everything from charcoal to a normal pen. She opened another and found a bunch of scrolls. She wiped off part of the desk and unrolled one, but it looked to be blank. Another drawer had a collection of empty journals. They all looked handmade and unique.

She turned her attention to the bookshelves. They looked just about as dusty the desk. Many of them looked like they were in Arabic. She found one shelf that had a row of journals that looked like the ones she had seen in the drawer. She pulled one off, and placed it on the desk. She opened it and saw a picture on the first page. It looked old, She flipped it to the back and saw it was dated 1968. It was of Adara and a white soldier.

She looked at the journal itself and swore. It was written in Arabic.

“Hey, Coombre. You don’t happen to speak Arabic do you?”

He walked over and took a look at the book. He placed it back on the desk, and gestured for Anastasia to back up. He closed his eyes, and began to say something she couldn’t understand. After a moment, he opened his eyes again, and stood there for a moment.

“So, can you read Arabic now?”

“No, I just took-” He stopped himself and shook his head. “It would take too long to explain, but I know what the book says now.”

“Oh, wow. What does it say?”

“It is a journal. It tells of a young girl who found herself lost in a monastery when a green light hit. It tells of this as though it was something recalled from long ago. The monastery was in a different place. It says she spoke a little English and found a soldier who gave her some food. It seems that they may have had a romance. She lived in the monastery and he came to visit her, but then one morning the monastery was in a different place again.” He closed the book, and went towards the shelf. “Would you like me to read another?”

Anastasia was about to reply when she heard a loud noise. Her heart almost stopped. She span around, and saw Adara clapping in the doorway.

“I see you’ve been busy.”

“Adara-” Anastasia began.

“I’m impressed that you found this place so quickly.” She stepped in and looked around. She ran her finger along one of the shelves, and looked at the dust on her finger. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in here.”

“I’m sorry for poking around.” Anastasia bowed her head.

“It’s not a problem. Your thirst for knowledge knows no bounds.” She walked over to the desk and took a seat. “You had questions, and you sought out answers on your own, with no heed for consequences. I certainly didn’t expect you to actually trust Coombre and Siobhan to help you.”

“I knew I couldn’t find what I was looking for without help. I assume they told you?”

“I’ll leave that to your imagination, but have faith in your allies.” She paused. “So, are you satisfied? Are your questions answered?”

“Not really.” Anastasia shook her head. “I’m still not sure what the green light actually was, and how does Jean play into this? Was he the soldier?”

Adara laughed. “First you will have to make a choice. Your leadership skills are excellent, and your curiosity unceasing. If you want your questions answered, I would love to have you remain with me. We can unravel the mysteries of the universe together.”

Anastasia’s jaw dropped. She couldn’t believe that someone wanted her for something like that. She’d never been smart, so this was out of left field. She thought about it for a moment, but she had a suspicion that there was a catch. “Would I have to leave my friends?”

“I’m afraid every choice has a cost. You would likely never see them again.”

Anastasia’s mind raced. She couldn’t leave Paul, Jude, or even Vanessa for that matter. She had found friends who stood by her. She couldn’t abandon them now.

“Thank you for your offer, but no. I’ll seek out the secrets of the universe with my friends by my side.”

“Very well. You still have time to change your mind.” She got off the desk and moved towards the door. “Be sure to leave the monastery by sunset, or else you will have your choice taken away.” She stopped right before the door, turned around, and smiled. “Goodbye, Anastasia.”

“Goodbye, Adara.”


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I have my new stuff up and running now. WordPress has changed its editor too, so I’m also learning that. Please let me know if anything is off about this, or any of my other posts. I think I’ve worked out a new system, but can’t quite be sure. Anyways, hope you enjoyed!

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Trials: Part Twenty Six

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Jude regaled Zoey with stories, containing varying degrees of truth from his year and a half of being a superhero, for about thirty minutes before he heard the front door open. Arte was nodding off and Deven was fully asleep.

“Hey, sorry it took me so long.” Mr. Rodriguez called from inside the kitchen, and various clanking noises emitted from the room as well. After a few seconds, he stood, wearing a bright green polo and khakis, in the doorway.

“It’s about time, dad.” Zoey laughed. “Jude was just telling me about this time he stopped two different crimes at once. You’re missing out.”

“Sounds like a crazy story.” He smiled. “I hate to interrupt, but I can only stay for a little bit.” He peaked over the couch, and saw Deven asleep on the floor. “Oh sorry.” He whispered. “Didn’t see your friend was asleep.”

“Don’t worry about it. I appreciate you having us over.” Jude smiled.

“Yeah, do you mind if I ask what happened?”

“Well…” Jude debated how much he wanted to say. On the one hand, he didn’t want to overshare. Mr. Rodriguez might not like them staying over so much if he thought that Dayspring had been committing crimes. Then again, he hadn’t specifically been told to not say what happened, so he figured the worst he’d get would be a slap on the wrist. “There was a misunderstanding with the agency, and they came in through the windows. There was some decent damage, and I really appreciate you letting us sleep in a room without broken windows. They said they’d get it fixed tomorrow, so we shouldn’t be in your hair for too long.”

“Don’t worry about us. It’s no problem. Here, let’s go into the other room to talk for a bit. Let your friend sleep.” He led them into the kitchen and shut the door behind him. “Now, I’ve gotta run back to work, but Zoey can take care of you. Your agency called me on my way, and told me that they’d confirmed the Dayspring on the news wasn’t you. I wasn’t worried too much about it, since it seemed out of character for you. I do need to ask if you think whatever your agency pulled at your house could happen here.”

“I doubt it. I think we’re good for right now, but I assure you, if it does, no harm will come to your daughter. I can promise you that.”

Mr. Rodriguez smiled, “Ah, you know what a father loves to hear, don’t you.” He picked up a couple of items from the counter, and moved towards the door. “Sleep well. Feel free to use any bed, or the living room if you prefer. I will be back in the morning.” He took off out the front door.

“He seems to really trust me, huh?” Jude turned to Arte. He really hadn’t been expecting him to know about any of that, and he felt a little bad for not mentioning it.

“Well, when you think about it, letting you sleep in their house isn’t that much more dangerous than you sleeping in your own bed, since if you wanted to hurt them, you probably could anyways.” Arte shrugged. “That aside, let’s go talk to Zoey about ‘you know what’.”

Jude followed her into the den. She definitely did have a point. When you thought about it, it was dangerous to even be around him. The same goes for Deven, or almost any super really. He found Zoey sitting on the couch where they left her. They both sat down next to her.

“So, Zoey… I wanted to ask you about something.” Jude began.

Zoey’s eyes went wide, and she forced a nervous laugh. “What did you want to talk about?”

“What were you doing in your yard earlier tonight?”

“Nothing! I just wanted some fresh air.”  She looked to the side and sighed. “Promise you won’t tell my dad? He’d freak out if he knew.”

“Alright.” Jude nodded. While he did want her help, he definitely didn’t want it without her dad knowing, so he wondered if this was going to be a problem.

She took a deep breath. “I have superpowers too. Well, I guess they’re technically superpowers. I’m not really sure how ‘super’ they are, but I can basically just make salt appear. Mostly in my hand, but really anywhere.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to never underestimate the usefulness of any power.” Jude nodded. He wasn’t sure if he had actually learned that, though. He was unsure just how useful salt could be, but she was all they had, so it needed to be good enough.

“What good is salt? It’s like the worst superpower.” She shook her head.

“Well, you can make salt, so you could probably throw it, and use it as a weapon.”

“What good is powdered salt? I keep trying to make something bigger, but I can’t! It always falls apart.”

“How much can you make?” Arte asked.

“I haven’t run out yet. I’ve probably made enough to fill a bathtub if I had to guess, but that’s the most I’ve made at one time.”

Jude nodded. He wondered if there was some way he could get her to think about her power differently, like they did with Anastasia, that would allow her to make something bigger and more solid. He entertained the idea, but he was definitely thinking too far ahead. “Alright, so here’s the deal. I want to help train you to be a superhero, but you have to keep your powers a secret, from anyone except your dad.”

“Wait, do I have to tell him? I thought you said you wouldn’t!”

“I said I wouldn’t. With that being said, I’m not really about sneaking around a highschooler’s parents, so if you want training, you’ll have to get your dad’s okay.” Jude turned to Arte. “Does that sound fair?”

“Definitely. I don’t want to get on your dad’s bad side.” She nodded.

“I don’t know…” Zoey looked down again.

“You don’t have to decide tonight. Just let me know, and we’ll arrange something.” Jude paused. “Also, you can’t talk about your powers at my house, or even near my yard.”

“Okay…?” She raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. “I can do that. I’ll think about how to talk to my dad.” Zoey nodded, and her uncertainty was replaced with a smile.

“Now, you should probably get to bed, since I assume you have school tomorrow.” Jude replied.

“Fine. Goodnight.” Zoey sighed. She made her way upstairs.

Jude sighed with relief once she was gone. He was exhausted, his adrenaline high had run out, and he was ready for it to be tomorrow. He leaned on the arm of the couch, and began to doze off.


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Trials: Part Twenty Five

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Vanessa began to probe Darryl’s mind. She found herself in a nice office, she looked out the window and saw it was raining outside. She saw Darryl sitting at a desk, with a man who looked vaguely familiar to her sitting on the other side.

“We need someone to help guard these bad apples, someone with training and powers, like you.” The man said.

“Very well. I will do as you ask.” Darryl signed a piece of paper, and the world faded to black.

Now they were back in the central cave, but Vanessa and Ashley were asleep on the floor. She saw Darryl standing over them with the other guard. Only the other guard had a flashlight, but both of them had a pack.

“Alright, Darryl, let’s get going. I don’t wanna spend longer down here than I have to.”

Darryl nodded and gestured for the other guard to lead the way.

“Why don’t you take the lead this time.” The other guard said.

“You’re the one with the light. Makes more sense for you to lead.” Darryl replied.

“Well, whatever works for you, bud.”

Vanessa wasn’t sure what it was, but there was definitely a palpable tension. She saw the name patch of the other guard, and it said ‘Jones’.

The guard began to walk down the same tunnel that Vanessa remembered taking, and Darryl followed. They walked for a while, and Vanessa noticed Darryl reaching for his gun. There was a slight click as he pulled it out of its holster, and the other guard whipped around, shooting darryl with a tranquilizer in the leg. Darryl froze, and the world faded to black again.

Vanessa found herself back in the central cave, and looked around. She saw Darryl leading both her and Ashley down a tunnel. She definitely didn’t remember this happening, so this couldn’t be a memory. He led them down the tunnel for a couple of minutes, before there was a sudden click. Darryl swore, and tried to cover Vanessa and Ashley, but fire engulfed them and the world went to black.

Vanessa gasped and released Darryl’s hands. Her heart was racing, and Darryl looked confused.

“Darryl, did you see that?” She asked.

“Yes…” He nodded.

“Were you planning to take us to that tunnel?”

“Well, yes, but I didn’t know what was down it! I was just going to pick the one next to this one.”

“What’s going on, guys?” Ashley’s voice was wavering.

“I saw us going down a tunnel, and dying. All of us.” Vanessa shook her head. This doesn’t make sense. Darryl would’ve had to consciously imagine that, and he imagined himself dying with them. That wouldn’t make sense if he was trying to kill them. “Darryl, what’s your superpower?”

“I’m not even sure if it’s really a superpower.” Darryl shook his head. “All I know, is I got a lot better at fighting after the green light. It’s like I know just what to do, and I do it. I even knew it was going to be you kicking me, so I didn’t fight back.”

“How long did you know that?”

“Just right  before it happened. I knew it was you. I don’t know how…”

Vanessa nodded. She wondered if he had a kind of future sensing power, like Paul. She supposed it would be reasonable, but maybe it was based on what was about to happen, given whatever Darryl is about to do.

“Okay, Darryl. It wouldn’t make much sense to go down that tunnel, so let’s try a different one. Keeping it methodical, knowing that one leads to death, lets take the next tunnel.”

“I guess that makes sense?” Darryl seemed hesitant. “Are you saying you trust me?”

“Sure. Give me your hands again.”

Darryl obliged, and Vanessa found herself in the center cave again. Darryl was leading them into the next tunnel to the right. After a while of walking they reached a dead end. It seemed there had been a cave-in at some point.

Vanessa released Darryl’s hand and got to her feet. She took the gun and light back from Ashley, and turned to Darryl. “Alright. Take us to the dead end tunnel.”

Darryl nodded and began walking. Vanessa and Ashley followed.

Ashley came up behind Vanessa and whispered to her. “Vanessa, what’s going on?”

“I think Darryl can see the immediate future, and with my help we can probe it a little further. We’re going to check out a tunnel that we saw should be a dead end. If it is, then that means this works, and we can find our way out like that!”

“We can find our way out…”

“Let’s just see how it goes. Stay behind me though.”

Ashley nodded, and the group returned to the central cave. Darryl went to the second tunnel to the right of the one they came out of, and the group followed. They walked for a few minutes, and eventually came up on a dead end. Just as they had seen in Darryl’s vision, there was a cave-in. Vanessa looked at the rocks, and they even looked the exact same as she had seen.

“We have our way out! Good work Darryl, lets head back to the central cave. Now that we know this works, we don’t even have to physically check every tunnel, we can just find the one that leads out of here.”

“That’s amazing…” Darryl murmured. “I had no idea I could do this.”

The group proceeded back to the central cave, and scanned every tunnel in the same manner as they had previously. After about ten minutes, they finally found one that led outside, but not to the prison. She was slightly surprised that Takeo actually gave them a way out. Then again, they weren’t out yet. There was only one way to find out.

Darryl led the way through the tunnel, and eventually they began to see some light that wasn’t from the flashlight. They went forwards, and the light continued to get brighter, enough so that the flashlight wasn’t necessary. They finally came out of the tunnel and found themselves standing in a forest. Birds sang up in the trees, and the wind blew. The sun warmed their faces. Freedom.


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Hello! My laptop is dead, but I managed to squeak this post and (hopefully) the next post out of it. If the navigation links aren’t working, that’s because I have to update them manually once a new post is live. Not to worry, new one should be here in plenty of time for next week.

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Trials: Part Twenty Four

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A decent bit of time had passed. Paul honestly was having a hard time keeping track of how long it was, but he felt like he’d been there a while. However long he’d been there, not once had his blindness been brought up. He meditated as they said, and he’d definitely honed his powers, but he was still blind. While that was great, the whole reason he had come to this place was that he’d thought that it would cure his vision.

He recalled how skeptical Jude had been, and wondered if he was right all along. Perhaps there was no way for his sight to be restored.

No, he couldn’t believe that. He was in a magic monastery, filled with a bunch of monks with magic powers. There had to be a way.

He heard a knock on the door.

“Paul. I believe we need to talk.” Adara said.

“No kidding. I’ve been here for a while now, and nobody has even mentioned curing my blindness.”

“I’m aware, yes.” Adara stepped into the room, and closed the door behind her. “Have we not helped you, though? You have gained a great deal of control over your powers, have you not?”

“Yes, and I appreciate that-” Paul began, but Adara cut him off.

“And would that not be immensely helpful to your friends and their cause? You have seen what is to come, and you know that they will need you. Do you not agree?”

“I know all that, but-”

She cut him off again. “Then what is the problem? Is this not enough for you?”

“I didn’t even want these powers!” Paul shouted. “I just want to be able to see, to be able to live a normal life.”

“Well which do you want? A normal life, or to be able to see?”

“They’re the same thing to me!” Paul couldn’t understand what she was doing. She was clearly toying with him, but he couldn’t figure out why.

“The closest thing to a normal life you will be able to obtain would be to return to your friends as you are. Would it be much of a normal life even if you had your sight back? Your friends already have incredible powers, would you take that away so that you could live a normal life?”

“No!” Paul shook his head. A tear began to flow down his face. “I wouldn’t do that to them, they’re happy.”

“Then you don’t want a normal life? You want sight?”

“Yes!”

“And what price would you be willing to pay? You’ve already said you wouldn’t change your friends.”

“Anything but that…”

“I can offer you sight, if you’re willing to pay any price.”

“What do you want from me?”

“You would have to stay here at the monastery. You would devote your life to studying the secrets of magic, and once you have mastered that, then you will be able to heal your eyes.”

“My life?”

“Yes, all of it.”

“Would I be able to see my friends again?”

“I cannot promise that we would ever return to a time in which your friends live. You would need to be prepared to never see them again, and not offer any goodbyes.”

“What about Anastasia?”

“Would you force that on her? I do not believe she would want to stay. You said earlier you wouldn’t change your friends, is that still true?”

“Enough.” Paul wiped his tears. “You knew I would say no, didn’t you?”

“I did.” Adara approached him and sat down in front of him. “I always believe in offering the choice, however. I do believe your friends will need you and your powers if they will see the end of this.”

“I think I have to agree.” Paul sighed. “I guess I’m just blind. That’s me. I’m not special, and there’s no magic cure.”

“I think you’ll find this is less of an encumbrance than you imagined.” She rubbed his shoulders, and stood to her feet. “If you don’t change your mind about staying, be sure to leave the monastery by sundown, or else you will lose your choice.” She went towards the door, before pausing. “Oh, as a final challenge. Try to seek out the vision of your death. Goodbye, Paul.”

“Goodbye, Adara.” He waved until he heard the door shut, then fell back onto the floor.

After that exhausting exchange, he wasn’t sure he was up to trying to see his most traumatic vision. Then again, the way that she said it was cryptic enough that he felt like he needed to. He sat back up and recalled the vision to his mind. He concentrated on what he could remember. He shuddered as he imagined Vanessa slicing his chest open, but it wasn’t a vision. He wondered if he could even do it. He shook his head. He knew he had to.

He concentrated and found himself floating in the air above an abandoned outdoor basketball court. This was strange, because before he had always been hiding behind a shrub, and seeing things from his own point of view. He wondered if this was why Adara told him to do this.

He saw Vanessa and a young hispanic girl, that he recognized from visions of Jude, ran onto the court, before briefly looking back. They were saying something, and it looked like they were arguing, but Paul couldn’t understand. It sounded like he was underwater. Jude and Anastasia entered the court and everyone was still. The girl seemed to be positioning herself to de-escalate the conflict.

This was all wrong, the girl had never been there before, but she was here now. This was definitely the same event, everyone was wearing the same clothes and standing in the same places.

It seemed like the girl was actually managing to calm everyone down. Paul considered that maybe by resolving his conflict with himself, he had managed to prevent this catastrophe.

Vanessa suddenly lunged to the left, and threw a disc towards Jude. Jude saw it coming, and Paul saw a look of resignation on his face. He looked at Jude for a moment but nothing changed. Then Jude ran forwards, with a look of agony. Paul looked around, and saw the girl bleeding on the pavement.

“No!” Paul shouted with tears streaming down his face. He was back in the monastery.


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Trials: Part Twenty Three

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Jude paced around their living room. Broken glass by the windows, furniture askew, even their kitchen had been dug through. He contemplated his position. He knew they had microphones bugging the house, but wasn’t sure if they had cameras. He wasn’t even sure how small they could make cameras these days, so he couldn’t really trust it if he didn’t find any. They could go over to the neighbors, but Jude wanted to work some things out with Arte before they did that. She was basically an official member of ‘Team Dayspring’, and Jude needed someone to bounce ideas off of.

Jude felt Arte tap his shoulder. She was handing him an open notebook, face down, with a pen. Jude carefully looked at it, wary of cameras.

The house is bugged, so we should pass notes if we want to say anything we don’t want them to hear.

Jude held the notebook to his chest and nodded.

The girl next door is a super. I think she can help us.

“Well, I don’t intend to sleep in an open air house, quite honestly.” Jude said, as he passed Arte the notebook.

She read the note before replying and shutting it. “Yeah, I guess we should go see one of the neighbors, and ask if they have a spare bed. Wanna try the Rodriguez house?”

“Yeah, that sounds like a good choice.” Jude nodded. “Lets pack an overnight bag and head over there. Deven, make sure to pack your bedroll.”

Deven nodded. He had to sleep on a pad, since he’d ruin any normal mattress.

Jude went to pack a change of clothes, toiletries, and a couple of notebooks. He looked over at his clock, it was 10 PM. He wasn’t too worried about any robbers, since they’d be next door, and Daniels definitely had the place bugged. He probably had trackers on anything valuable too.

Jude went back downstairs to see Arte sitting on the floor next to Deven. She looked up from her phone. “Hey, don’t know if you saw this, but they saw Psyche in downtown Atlanta this morning. They’re saying she attacked the aquarium.”

Jude shook his head. This wasn’t right, if Vanessa was back she definitely would’ve contacted him, or at least her dad. More importantly, she most likely wouldn’t be doing terrorist things. He pulled out his phone, and dialed up Mr. Smith.

He waited for a moment and a groggy Mr. Smith answered the phone. “David Smith, who’s this?”

“Hey, Mr. Smith, it’s Jude. I was wondering if you had seen Vanessa in the past couple of days?”

“Is this about the aquarium? No, I haven’t seen her, and whoever that was is not my daughter.” He sighed. “If you look into this, let me know if I can help.”

“Alright. Our house has a bug problem and they’re gonna work on it tomorrow, so right now we’re staying with the neighbors. I’m sure the agency will have this Vanessa thing handled though.”

“Bug problem, I gotcha. Be sure to let the agency know that they have my full support in clearing my daughter’s name. Good night.”

“Good night.” Jude hung up the phone and sighed. “Well, I’m sure the agency has that covered.” He forced a smile and turned to Arte and Deven. “You ready?”

“Yup, sure thing.” She got to her feet and picked up her bag. Deven nodded and followed suit.

Jude led the way over to the neighbors. As they approached the door, Arte leaned over to Jude and whispered, “Turn your phone off when we get in.”

Jude nodded, and rang the doorbell. He really did feel bad about potentially waking up Mr. Rodriguez, but on the other hand this was certainly an atypical circumstance, so he felt like it was warranted. He waited for a moment, and Zoey answered the door.

“Hey are you guys alright? I heard a lot of crashing, and there was a flash of light. What happened?”

“Well it’s a long story that I’d love to tell you about later, but is your dad home?” Jude forced a smile. He really hated relying on the help of others, but he figured it was necessary right now.

“Nope, he’s at work. You can come in, though.” She opened the door all the way and gestured them inside.

“Thank you, could you maybe call your dad too? Just so he knows we’re here, and to see if he’s alright with it.”

Zoey leaned out the door, and looked over at their house. “Looking at the state of your house, I’m pretty sure my dad would kill me if I didn’t invite you in, so don’t worry too much about it. I’ll call him though.”

“Thank you.” Jude followed Zoey into the den, with Arte and Deven in tow.

“Alright, I’ll call him. You sit tight.” Zoey went off into the other room.

The furniture definitely seemed old and worn, but the place was definitely clean. Jude saw Deven move to take a seat on the couch.

“Oh, hey Deven. Why don’t we sit on the floor. We don’t wanna risk breaking these people’s couch.” Jude gestured to a spot on the rug, and sat down next to him.

Arte sat down next to Jude, and whispered, “Do you think her house is bugged?”

“I think we just have to hope it isn’t. Because we could probably be watched just about anywhere we request permission to go to. So if this place is bugged, I think we probably just can’t escape it.” He reached into his pocket and turned off his cell phone.

Jude heard footsteps, turned around, and saw Zoey had come back into the room. “Just like I thought, my dad said you could stay as long as you need. He’s leaving work right now. We don’t really have a spare bed, but my dad said you could sleep in mine and his.”

“Oh, no, please. We don’t wanna inconvenience you that much.” Arte replied.

“It’s up to you.” Zoey shrugged and took a seat on the couch. “At least one of you should sleep in a bed, though. My dad and I can share. It’s no biggie.”

Jude nudged Arte. “All yours. I’ll sleep on the floor with Deven.”

“So, since you’re here, do you have any cool superhero stories?” Zoey grinned like a middle schooler who had just met her favorite boy band.

Jude laughed. It had been a while since he’d talked with a fan, and he was imposing on them anyways, so indulging her with a story would be the least he could do. “Well, there was this one time…”

 


 

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