Squad Support

“Taking the visor off,” Eury advised the room by habit. The 14 year-old-girl in pajamas sat on the edge of her bed and looked down at the floor. She removed her violet-crystal visor and placed it on the nightstand next to several spares. Then she slipped on her sleep mask as she lay on the bed. “You there, Abby?” She asked aloud. Her friend was the only person in the room when she gave the warning, but she might have left in the few seconds it took Eury to lay down. Or she may not have felt like talking; the real reason Eury learned to wait until her eyes were covered.

“Yeah, I’m here,” Abby called back. Eury was glad she felt like talking. “What’s up?”

“Who’re you going to be tomorrow?”

“I’m still gonna be Abby I guess. That’s a weird question.”

“NOOooo.” Eury sat up in bed and faced the direction of Abby’s voice. “It’s the first day of school!” Eury threw her hands on the bed in excitement. “The first day of a brand new school! A school just for UNIQUES! No one knows us; we can be who we want to be!”

“Oh, okay,” Abby nodded in understanding, not that her friend could see. “Yeah, I’m still gonna be Abby.” Eury groaned with frustration and threw herself backward on the bed.

“Why aren’t you more excited?”

“I haven’t lived my whole life wanting to go to school,” Abby shrugged. “I’ve already been. It’s not that great.”

“And you’re not even a little bit excited about meeting SoundCrowd?” Eury asked.

“No way. They know we’re on Ballisea’s team; I’m sure they’ll treat us like jerks because we’re the ‘bad guys‘.”

“They wouldn’t do that!” Eury replied. “Probably. Some of them might, but Dirge wouldn’t!”

“Whoever you’re pretending to be will disappear the moment the rest of the students find out we’re Ballisea’s side,” Abby said.

“But it’s my chance to be cool!” Eury whined at the ceiling.

“Eury,” Abby said with a softer, closer voice. Eury felt the bed shift as Abby sat down next to her. “You kill people by looking at them. How much cooler do you want to be?”

“I guess,” she grumbled.

“What’s wrong with Eury?” Eury recognized Lupe’s voice from the direction of the doorway and guessed the girl just walked in.

“She’s nervous about school,” Abby replied.

“I’m not nervous.” Eury faced the direction of Lupe’s voice. “I thought it would be a good time to try out a new me.”

“She thinks she needs a cooler identity,” Abby added.

“What? No way,” Lupe grinned. Only Abby saw it. Eury felt the bed shift in the other direction when Lupe joined them on her bed. “You’ve already got a cool identity.”

“I know. I kill people by looking at them,” Eury said meekly.

“Nu-uh. That’s cool too, but there’s something even better.”

“Really?” Eury sat up again. “What?”

“Yeah, what?” Abby asked.

“You too,” Lupe said. Eury got the impression she was talking to Abby.

“Us three and the boys were all hand-picked by Ballisea. The strongest Unique that ever existed chose us…,” Eury felt Lupe poke her arm to drive the point home. “…to be on her derby team. You both know the stakes; you know she really wants to win this. She thinks we’re the best shot she has.  You guys…,” Lupe stood up. Eury felt the bed pop back up in her absence.

“…we’re the B-Squad!”

Four-sight

Frank stared at the black hole at the back of his empty locker and took a breath. He stepped back to scan the flow of students for anyone watching his locker, but no one seemed to notice him.

“WHO STOLE MY BOOKS?” he yelled. The crowd stopped moving for a second, long enough for everyone to give him an awkward look. Then, the students continued to their next class.

“I did! I’m sorry!” A girl squeaked. Frank turned to see a short girl with dark hair approaching him. She wore a violet, translucent visor over her eyes. “I thought this was my friend’s locker!” she smiled. As she apologized she wiggled her fingers at the black hole. It moved forward to the front of the locker, then disappeared. It left behind Frank’s notebooks and laptop. He looked at her and smiled.

“Honest mistake. I’ve got my stuff back, no complaints,” he lifted his arm for a half-hearted introductory wave. “I’m Frank, a Diablito.” The girl grinned and returned a wave.

“Eury, La Muerte.”

“What’s the visor for? Is it corrective?” Frank asked. Eury shrugged but nodded her head.

“Kinda. It keeps me from killing people when I look at them.”

“Move,” a different girl said. Frank saw a head of black hair push Eury forward toward him. He managed to sidestep out of the way then catch her around the waist as she stumbled forward. Once he helped her get steady he turned to the dark-haired girl opening the locker next to his. She wore a visor like Eury’s, except hers was opaque black.

“Hey,” Frank started to say something, but Eury placed a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s okay. Abby’s just rude,” Eury smiled at him. She tilted her head at the girl behind her. “That’s my friend, la araña. I thought your locker was hers,” she explained.

“Oh. Well, nice to meet you, Abby,” Frank waved. Abby faced him and he wondered how she could see anything through the visor. It was so dark she might as well have been trying to see through tar. She kept facing him but did not acknowledge his wave in any way. Frank lifted his hand in front of her face.

“I’m not blind,” she said.

“Sorry,” Frank apologized and pulled his hand away. “So does your visor keep you from killing people you look at too?” he asked.

“No. It keeps people from freaking out,” she said. Frank gave her a confused look.

“Freak out about what?” he asked. He saw one corner of Abby’s lip tug upward when he asked.

“Nothing. Let’s get to class Abs,” Eury interrupted. She grabbed Abby’s arm to lead her away, but she turned to wave at Frank.

“I’ll talk to you later, Frank.”

“Uh, okay,” he waved, unsure why they left in such a hurry. He pulled his node out of his pocket and called up the school map. A green arrow guided him through the school. Frank split his attention between following the green arrow and looking up to get his surroundings. The school was almost as big as the shopping mall in his hometown and he wanted to learn the layout as fast as possible. No better time to start than the first class of the first day.

He reached the highlighted room and the arrow disappeared from the display. The moment he stepped in the room he heard his name.

“Frank!” Eury called. She sat at a waist-high black lab table with Abby on one side of her. They were the only people in the bright, fluorescent room. Each table in the classroom had three stools and Eury motioned for Frank to join her table. He sat next to her and smiled.

“Hey, cool. I wonder how many classes we have together,” he chuckled.

“Four,” she replied. A loud, hollow thwack sounded when Abby smacked Eury on the back of her head. The only thing Frank saw was a blur of motion, then Eury immediately burst into nervous laughter. “HahahHA! Or more. Or less! Who knows? Could be any number. There’re lots of numbers.”

Spider Trap

A dinner-plate sized black hole opened in the air next to Alan Crane’s seat. A black cat with a white fur stain atop its head stepped out of the hole and looked up at the thin, lanky man. The white splotch on its head resembled a skull.

“New pickup,” the cat spoke with a soft, feminine voice. Alan’s head dropped as he released a heavy sigh. He felt relieved it was only a “pickup”.  “Check your node for details. Usual drop off,” the cat stood and turned to enter its hole again. It paused halfway in the hole, then turned to face Alan. He saw golden eyes staring at him from inside the black hole.

“Yes, Janet,” he mumbled. The cat’s head bobbed in a faint nod, then she disappeared along with her black hole. Alan reached into his coat pocket and retrieved a small, transparent rectangle. He woke it and a picture of a dark-haired girl wearing a black visor appeared on the display. He glanced down at the only information provided.

  • Abby Araña: Unique #33 – La Araña. Unique ability – Swarm Summon

“Damnit Janet,” he grumbled at the empty air where the black hole was. “Better get started.” Alan placed his hands on each empty seat next to him and closed his eyes.  “Everybody out,” he thought. A small, bright purple scorpion climbed out of his cuff on one hand. A dark black scorpion crawled out of his other cuff. After that, dozens more scorpions in varying colors and sizes followed out of his sleeves. Once he released them all he sat up straight in his chair and waited for the next stop.

A small crowd of ten people, including a girl with a black visor, boarded at the next stop. Alan breathed out in relaxation, it seemed luck was on his side for once. Once the train left the station, Alan’s scorpions knocked out all the other passengers. Abby did not seem to notice that almost everyone else was unconscious. The girl’s attention seemed focused on her node. Alan sent a single scorpion to sting her to test her reaction. She did not move at all, but Alan felt the nameless scorpion die.

Did anyone see what happened?” he mentally asked his minions.

Spiders crawled out of her skin to kill him. A lot of spiders,” one of his scorpions replied into his mind.

Okay. Get ready,” Alan reached into his coat pocket. “Rush her!” he gave the command and stood from his seat at the same time. He pulled a tazer out of his pocket and fired it at the young girl. Two large, furry tarantulas jumped out of her skin to intercept the electrodes. They exploded as the current ran through them, but Abby did not flinch. She remained focused on her node.

Alan watched his soldiers crawl at Abby from all sides but spiders poured out of her skin like water. Her spiders protected her like living armor, they assaulted anything that got too close. Alan dashed across the subway car towards Abby, his skin hardened and became purple chitin to protect him from spider bites.

He grabbed her hair to pull her out of her seat and dozens of black widow spiders crawled out of her hair to climb up his arm. He felt the spiders attempt to sting him, but his carapace kept him protected. Abby’s black visor fell off when he yanked her hair, and Alan paused at the sight. Behind her visor, her eyes consisted of two black holes in her head. Abby giggled as two giant, softball-sized spiders crawled out her eye sockets and leaped at Alan.

Now, Sleepy!” he commanded the purple scorpion that crawled along the ceiling of the subway car. While Abby’s hundreds of eyes focused on Alan, Sleepy landed on her head and sunk his stinger into her neck. She fell unconscious immediately.

Without her controlling them, the spiders crawled away. The swarm dissipated, but the two largest spiders that crawled out of her skull returned to her eye sockets. They bothered Alan enough that he put her black visor back on her face before he lifted her over his shoulder.