Astrid looked the frail, short man up and down. Astrid’s mother, Tana, stood 5’6″, but the bag of bones next to her was noticeably shorter. His skin color matched Astrid’s, both were several shades darker than Tana’s dark brown. There was no doubt he was Astrid’s father.
“Hi,” Astrid said, then she turned to the young man who delivered her father home. His dark suit made him look like a government agent. “Are you really a Muerte?” She asked with wide eyes. He nodded.
“Yep. I found your dad time-locked; when I freed him he wanted to come straight home to you,” he smiled at her and offered his hand. “I’m Billy.”
“Astrid,” she smiled. She glanced at his hand long enough to acknowledge it, but she did not dare touch him.
“Time-locked?” Tana asked. She turned to her husband for an explanation. He shrugged.
“I blinked and it was 14 years later. Whoever it was had to be pretty strong to stop me.” After answering his wife he turned his attention to the young girl.
“Where are all your friends?” he asked. “I just found out it was your birthday today,…” the lean man looked around the living room of off-white walls and hardwood floors. There were no hints that a party was about to happen.
“I don’t have any friends,” she said with the same tone one might use when stating that the sky was blue. It was a fact plain and simple. “Hey, can you give me a ride?” she looked at Billy.
“Astrid! Don’t be rude,” Tana tried to reprimand her daughter. “At least talk to your father. It’s not his fault he was gone for so long.”
“Why don’t you have any friends?” her father asked.
“I’m a Luna, dad,” she immediately felt bad. She meant to give the endearment a bit of snark, but it came out sounding much meaner. She sighed and relaxed a bit. “I don’t know if you remember; everyone here is a Super. I’m a Luna. Anytime I touch them, I copy their powers, and they don’t like that.”
“Oh,” he said. “I thought Lunas had a limit to how many abilities they could copy?” Astrid nodded.
“I do, but that only applies to Uniques. Supers are just higher-end Zeros; there’s no limit for their powers.”
“Well…,” the frail man started rolling up the sleeve of his flannel shirt. “…did your mom tell you what I am?” he asked. Astrid shook her head and watched as her father’s forearm came into view.
“I thought you were gone,” Tana answered.
“REALLY!!???” Astrid screeched as the sleeve revealed her father’s tattoo. The tattoo was a thick slice of cake with a sugar skull decoration sitting on it. The number ’42’ was printed on the skull’s dome. Astrid wasted no time in reaching out to grab her father’s hand. The moment they touched Astrid felt her strength grow.
“Yeah,” her father chuckled. “My name kind of gives it away, but yeah. I’m a Calavera.”
“Oh,” Astrid said. “What’s your-” her question was interrupted by Tana patting her husband’s shoulder.
“Heavy, dear, why don’t you go wash up and change. You’ve been wearing the same clothes for fourteen years.”
“Your name is HEAVY!?” Astrid giggled. Heavy’s eyes shifted to Tana; she shrugged.
“You were gone,” she said. Heavy sighed.
“I was only gone for a few minutes,” he whined. Tana kissed his cheek.
“I’m glad you’re home.”
“So can I go!?” Astrid asked her parents. “Pleeeeeeeeasssse?” she clasped her hands.
“Go where?” Heavy asked.
“Out there,” Astrid pointed at Billy. “Somewhere I can make friends maybe. I want to travel and see new things.”
“It’s dangerous, and that’s not even counting the one in a billion chance of meeting Ballisea,” Heavy said. Astrid shrugged.
“Mundo gave me a ton of information, I can handle it.”
“Oh, you know a Mundo?” he asked. Astrid nodded.
“He dated mom for a few years. They broke up last week.”