Blink’s earlier adventures:
Blink’s First Adventure | 2 | 3 | 4
Superhero Summer Camp (this one): 1 | 2 | 3
“What’s that?” Stevie asked.
“It doesn’t happen often,” Zero replied. “It’s when we call up everyone for a major operation. Like the one against Republic Industries last fall?”
“Right. Since you’re inactive, you won’t be called on unless it’s absolutely necessary. When you finish college, we’ll move you to active status and then you’ll be a working superhero.”
Zero picked up the form and looked it over on his clipboard. “I have all your stats. Now, can you tell me about when you manifested?”
“Oh, sure. Me and Chris and Lashaun were hanging out at the park, and some dumb high school kid came over and started giving us crap, telling us to leave. I told him to act his age instead of his IQ.” He paused, as Zero chuckled. “So yeah, he told me to meet him after school the next day so he could teach me a lesson. Whatever. I wasn’t going to go there, but he caught me on the path going toward my house. He shoved me up against a tree, and went to punch me. But I—I don’t know how it happened. I wanted to get out of the way, and next thing I know I was standing next to the tree. The high school kid hit the tree with his fist, then I pushed him down and ran. I think he broke his hand, the way he was yelling.”
“Ah. A stress situation. Manifesting under stress is fairly common, but school’s a stressful place for most. We may never figure out why you manifested so early, but it probably doesn’t matter. Next up, your physical.”
Stevie knew what happens in a physical, but it was still totally embarrassing. The nurse gave him an understanding look, and got the worst part over with as fast as she could. Getting stuck for blood was almost okay, after that. Then he had to get on a treadmill and run until he was out of breath while they checked his pulse.
After the physical, the nurse let him follow her to the cafeteria for lunch. Everything looked suspiciously healthy to Stevie, but he made do with a burger and a side of corn. Coming out of the serving line, he automatically looked around for Lashaun and Chris, but remembered that this wasn’t school. Professor Zero was gone, probably doing work stuff, and Captain Heroic was missing. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time he ate lunch by himself—
Wait. There was the girl—the one that was Professor Zero’s niece—oh yeah, Nixi. By herself. He would have never had the nerve to do this at school, but here? I’m a super, he told himself again. I can do this. He carried his lunch tray over. “Hey,” he said. “Can I sit here?”
Nixi looked up. “Sure.”
“Thanks.” He laid his tray on the table, across from her, and took a seat. “I’m Blink.”
“Yeah,” she replied. “I kind of figured.” She gave him a thin smile, enough to show she wasn’t being rude.
“Not many kids around, huh?” He dug into his burger. It didn’t taste like Mom’s, but it was better than the burgers at school.
“Just us. And the girl you came in with.”
“Sarika? Yeah. When I saw you there, I was surprised she wasn’t here, too.”
Nixi gave him a sour look. “I’ll bet. She’s been assigned to some other department, one I never heard of. You probably won’t see much of her.”
“What? Oh. No, I’m not… I don’t like her like that. I was just wondering, is all. We rode here together with Captain Heroic.”
“Yeah. Some people get all the breaks. Money, looks, the works. It’s not fair, sometimes, you know?” She picked at her food, not looking up.
He laughed a little. “You’re not ugly or anything. Besides, Mom said that good-looking people are usually a—jerks.”
“So I have a great personality,” she grumbled.
“You could have told me to go sit at another table. That would have been… uh, good-looking.”
She snickered. “Yeah. My name’s Nixi, by the way. But with an X, not two Ks.”
“I know. Captain Heroic told me.”
“This is gonna take some getting used to. It’s like we’re all in a little house, we know everybody else’s business. I think I saw your file on my desk, so I’m gonna have to enter all of that this afternoon. Then I’ll know all sorts of stuff about you. How did you end up getting your superpower, already?”
“I don’t know. It just happened.” He told her about the high school kid; it was already becoming just a story he could rattle off at will. “I tell everyone else I just ducked.”
“Hey. Can I ask you something?”
“I saw the news reports about you, how you stopped DeVine’s caper. How did you know he was going to be there?”
“I didn’t know, I was just there.” Stevie saw the curious look Nixi gave him. “I was just thinking. I figured I wouldn’t get disturbed, sitting in a locked bank vault, you know?”
“You’re a better person than me.” Nixi talked around a mouthful of food. “I’d have been tempted to stuff my pockets with cash.”
Stevie forced a laugh. He had been considering the exact same thing, of course. “The thought did cross my mind. But DeVine kinda interrupted me. Then Ultra Woman came along.”
“So you know all about me. What are you doing here?”
Nixi held up a finger, chewing up the rest of her food. “I’m setting up an intranet,” she said at last. “The last contractor deployed a real cluster—it wasn’t very good. I thought at first I might be able to tweak it up, maybe re-code a few pieces, but now that I’ve gotten into it…” She trailed off, tangling her fingers in her hair. “Jeez. I have to toss the entire thing and start from scratch. And these guys called themselves professionals? A middle-schooler could do better. Will do better. I just hope I can get the first cut done before school starts back in, and I can VPN in and fix anything they find after that.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
“Yeah. And I’ll be dealing with some other stuff. Data entry, that kind of junk.” She stood. “And I gotta get to it. Good talking with you. I guess I’ll run into you some other time.”
Stevie watched her go. That went well, kind of, he told himself. He talked to a girl, and didn’t act like a dork. He didn’t think he had, anyway. It would be nice if they could eat lunch together every day. She talked about computer stuff that went over his head (what did “VPN in” mean?), but it was still good to have someone his own age to talk to.