No ordinary hero (Keepers of justice # 1) (6 page)

Chapter Twelve


“So what did you think of the movie?” I ask Lindsay as we sip our sodas
in the fast food joint across the street from the theater.

She shrugs. “It could have been better.”

Yeah, I can’t agree more. It was ridiculous. Is that what the rest of the world thinks of us?

First of all, the Tower is orbiting Earth? What, are we not human
enough to live on the planet? And what’s with the weird uniforms? Come on, underwear on top of tights is so Superman. Sure the special effects were amazing, and the powers were pretty believable and impressive, but aliens? That’s the best villains they could come up with? They don’t exist!

They interviewed the Elites so they could portray them in the
most realistic way. So why did they turn Lightning into some sort of weather freak, when in reality he can only produce electricity? And they made my dad some woman-chaser. How lame.

special effects were pretty cool, though,” I say.

Hey, if you were able to choose, what superhero would you be?”

good question. I’ve never really thought about it.” Of course I’ve thought about it. Ever since I was little. I imagined having super strength, speed, telepathy like my mom and telekinesis like my dad. I even dreamed of having both my parents’ abilities. “Samson, I guess.”

“Picking the leader is cheap,” she says.

“Oh, okay. Robert, then.”

Her eyebrows scrunch together. “Robert?”

“Yeah, the telepath.”

Her eyebrows come even closer together. “There was no Robert in the movie. Do you mean Psychic?”

Oh, man. I’m having trouble differentiating what’s real and fiction. I hardly paid attention to the characters or storyline because the movie was so dumb. I take a gulp of my soda. The Psychic Lindsay’s talking about is Mom. I’ve got no clue if normies know what happened to her. Dad never mentions her in press conferences and things. They’ll think what they want and make up their stories. Maybe Mom will tell them the truth if she wakes up. No, not if. When.

“Yeah, I meant her,” I say.

It’s quiet.

I take another sip of my soda. “
So who would you choose?”

She shrugs again. “
None, really.”

No kidding, you don’t want to be a hero?”

“No, not really. Why does someone have to have powers to be a hero?
There are many heroes out there who don’t have superpowers, you know.”

Yeah, like me.
I press the can to my mouth before I say something stupid. Like the truth.

But if I
to choose,” she continues, “I’d pick Blue Raven. Have you heard of her? She was my favorite hero as a kid. They kicked her out of the League.”

“They didn’t kick her out. She left.” Because she met a normie and fell in love with him. She’s got these big
blue wings, and I’ve got no clue how she lives without being seen. We all miss her.

“How do you know that?”
Lindsay asks.

man. There goes my big mouth again. I need a muzzle or something. I lean back in my chair and shrug. “Pshh, I don’t know anything. That’s what I heard. It’s not like I keep tabs on them.”

It gets quiet again. Lindsay plays with her can. I shake my leg.
“So, want me to get us some burgers or something?” I ask. “I’m starving.”

“I’ll get my own.”

“C’mon. I’ll buy. Not that it’s a date or anything...” Is it a date? Does she want it to be? “I mean...”

“You’re funny.” She giggle
s. Looks like it slipped out accidentally. Her cheeks get bright red. “Um, a burger, please, and some fries.”

“Sure thing.”

I can feel her watching me as I head to the counter. When I turn around, she whips her head the other way.

“Hey,” a tall girl says, coming toward me.
A pretty girl is actually talking to me? Is she talking to me? I turn my head, but there’s no one else here except for a middle-aged woman with three kids. Wow, she
talking to me.

Don’t get distracted. Don’t get distracted.

“Hey,” I say like it’s no big deal that a
girl is within five feet of me.

She stands next to me at the counter and rests her elbow on it,
smiling at me. Wow.

What’s a cute boy like yourself doing with
?” She points her thumb to the table Lindsay’s at and makes a disgusted face.

Wait what?
Oh, man, she’s one of those girls. I tear my gaze away and try to get the attention of the guy behind the counter. He’s texting.

“Come on,” the girl says, touching my arm. “I’ll take that
ugly thing off your back. Let’s get out of here.”

I look at her. “If by ‘
ugly thing’ you mean my date, then you can get the hell out of my face. And can I order?” I yell at Counter Guy.

“Whatever, loser,” the girl says, bumping into my shoulder as she walks off.
Man, I was so close to doing something stupid and jeopardizing Earth. What would have happened if she wasn’t that type of girl? The world doesn’t want to know.

After I finally get the food, I slide back into my seat.
Lindsay raises her head. “Thanks.”

“Huh? Oh, you heard that?”

“Yeah. It was very sweet of you. But you didn’t have to.”

“Didn’t have to what?”

She doesn’t answer. I feel myself moving closer as if that’ll make her words come out. “Stay with me. It’s not like you’re my boyfriend.”

So what if she’s not my girlfriend
? Lindsay’s my, not just my assignment, my friend. Wait, my friend? I glance at her and when our eyes meet, Lindsay gives me a small smile. I guess we’re forming some sort of bond. “Yeah, and?” I say.

“Never mind

“No, tell me. It’s okay.”

She has this look in her eyes. I don’t know what it is exactly. Appreciation, happiness, and delight. “Did you end up picking a hero?” she asks. “I don’t remember.”

m, I dunno.”

“Pick again.”

I steal a fry from her plate and crush it between my teeth. “Right now, I don’t want to be a hero. I’m just happy to be me, hanging out with you and having a good time.”

She smiles shyly and throws a couple of fries at me. “You’re such a dork.”


I go to the hospital. Healer’s sitting on one of the empty beds, reading a fashion magazine or something. When she
sees me, she puts it down and smiles. “Here to visit your mom?” she asks.

no. I mean, yeah I should go, but I wanted to ask you a favor.”

She nods and motions
for me to be quiet because the patients are resting.

“You know the girl I’m working with, Lindsay?” I ask. She
nods. “Well, um, she’s got like...” Crap, this is hard to say. “I mean, they don’t bother me or anything. I mean, at first they did because that’s all I saw, but she’s got pretty eyes and sometimes I forget about them. But I know she feels self-conscious about them, so I was thinking if maybe you can get rid of them.”

She looks at me like I told her I want her to change me into a girl (not that she could do that). “What?” she asks.

“Her zits. They’re like blemishes, right? So maybe you can heal them.”

“All girls
have acne, Kale. It’s part of being a teenager. Look at yourself and all the kids here. I can’t heal all of them.”

“Yeah, but Lindsay’s different.
Dad told me it’s the accumulation of her energy over the years. She’s probably got them all over her body. They bug her, and Dad says any little thing that makes her happy can save Earth. It might not work, but wanna give it a shot?”

She thinks for a bit. “All right. I
’ll find a way to touch her and eliminate her acne. Although she might get suspicious. I’ll put a small sample of the latest acne medicine and body wash in her mailbox, one she hopefully hasn’t tested out yet. She’ll assume it cures her acne. That’s the best I can do. There’s a chance the marks will resurface, but that will take a while, and we’ll worry about it then.”

“Thanks. That
sounds cool.”

I turn to go.


I turn around. “Yeah?”

“You’re sweet for doing this for her. You know, when I found out you were assigned this mission, I thought we were in big trouble. But you’ve matured these past few days. Keep it up.”

“Uh, thanks, I guess.”


I enter Dad’s office and find him bent over a load of papers. “
Hey, Dad.”

He glances up at me for a second before flipping through the
pile. He always has a ton of paperwork. “Hello, Kale. How was the movie?”

” I turn to leave.

Tell me how your date went with Lindsay,” he says.

This is awkward, mainly because I’ve never been on a date
(or whatever it was) before tonight, (not to mention all the undercover League members were staring), so Dad and I never speak about this stuff. We don’t talk girls because most of them don’t give me the time of day. “Was okay,” I say.

He smiles. It looks strained, because Dad hasn’t cracked a real smile since Mom fell into that coma. “Just okay? From the way you walked into my office, I got a feeling it was more than just okay.”

“Nah. I mean I like her, but I don’t know. She’s fun and interesting and laughs at my stupid jokes, but...”

“But what?”

I shrug.

“Are you scared to care for her?” Dad asks.

I scoff. “No.”

“Are you embarrassed, s
on? Are you afraid you may be interested in her?”

“I don’t like her like that.”

“Okay, that’s fine.” We’re quiet. I don’t really have anything to say and I kind of want to escape. I mean, talking girls is a little too weird. Dad’s my dad, but he’s also my leader. Some stuff should be kept private, you know?

“I’m gonna
go find the guys.” I’m about to leave, but I turn around. “Dad, is Mom ever going to get better?”

He sighs, but doesn’t say anything. I shouldn’t have brought her up. He loo
ks so defeated. “It’s just that...I was wondering if, you know, you’d go out with another woman.” He motions for me to sit down. I obey.

“I’m not going to lie to you, Kale. I have thought about this a lot.” He si
ghs again and rubs his face. Shakes his head. “Your mother will never be dead to me. So to answer your question, no, I don’t plan on dating again.”

“There has to be a way to help her, Dad.”

He shakes his head. “Let’s not talk about this right now. I have a lot of work to do.” It’s too painful for him. I get it.

“Okay. Sorry, Dad.”

“You have nothing to apologize for. I’m here whenever you need me.”

Yeah, except when Mom’s concerned. Not that I blame him, but it’s something only the two of us understand because we went through the loss together. But I’m not going to push Dad to talk about it
. Not when he can’t or won’t.

When Mom fell in
to that coma, I promised her I’d find a cure. Dad promised her. So far we’ve failed, but that’s not going to stop me. I
help her.

Chapter Thirteen


X and Stretch are on the basketball court along with the triplets and Furball
. As I get closer, Stretch sneezes on Furball, who glares at him and steps away. He rubs his nose.

“Sup,” I say.

“Yo, Kale,” Stretch says. He spins the ball on his long fingers. “Come play. Girls vs. Boys.” He sneezes again and the ball thumps Furball on the head. She growls and flashes her sharp teeth. He slinks back.

We get into position and start playing. I forget about Mom and Dad and Lindsay
, and focus on the game, adrenaline pumping inside me. I’m not the greatest player, heck I’m not even mediocre, but it’s still fun. We’re tied with the girls, only because they suck more.

One more shot and the guys win.

As I’m about to dunk the ball into the basket, I feel my throat constrict. It’s like someone’s wrapping his hands around my neck and squeezing tight. I fall to the ground, grabbing my neck and gasping for air.

“Hey!” Stretch yells. “No powers.”

“Can’t...” I gasp. “Breathe.”

“Quit that right now,” X says, taking on
his usual freaky, dark tone. The invisible hand lets go and I take in huge gulps of air.

Furball makes the shot.
The triplets giggle and jump up and down, squealing. “What,” I breathe, “was that about? You wanna kill me, Air?”

She’s bad, that one. More so than her sisters
. All three of them are similar-looking, but they have different color hair. And different personalities. Earth Goddess is the quiet one. H
O can be nice, as long as you don’t piss her off, which I do a lot. Air is just plain mean.

“We couldn’t let you win,” Air says, shrugging like it’s no big deal that she almost killed me.
She rests her back against the fence surrounding the court and folds her arms.

X moves closer to her
and slams his hands on either side of her. “That was smart,” he growls. “Killing the guy who’s the only one that can save Earth.”

“Back off, pervert,” she says, narrowing her eyes. She’s using her powers on him
. X starts to choke, but he doesn’t back down.

going to...” he breathes. “Kill me like...killed your...parents.” He fists his hand like he’s about to punch her.

It gets so quiet, other than X’s
wheezing. The triplets exchange glances.

“Don’t you dare mention that ever again!”
O yells. “That was an
.” Earth Goddess stares at the ground, her eyes tearing up a bit. I don’t know how it happened, but the triplets have been living here since they were nine. Dad promised the government that he’d be responsible for them and teach them to control their abilities so they wouldn’t have to be contained in one of their facilities.

coughs. His face is really red now. I jump forward and try to pry them apart.

“X, it’s okay, man. No harm done,” I say. “Relax.”

He doesn’t move. His hand creeps toward her neck. The other two triplets use their powers to get him off her. H
O makes a water twister while Earth Goddess hurls lumps of dirt on him. Furball transforms into a tiger and leaps on him, knocking him to the ground. She raises her paw to strike.

Quit it!” I yell and try to yank the tiger off my bud. It doesn’t work, so I pull her tail. She leaps off X and growls at me before returning to her human form.

“Did you
my tail?”

“Do you guys want my dad to find out about this?
” I say. “Are you crazy?” X’s body convulses. “Air! Let him go.”

Like hell,” she mutters.

I grab her arm and yank her close to me. “I’m serious. Let. Him. Go.” She gives me a huge smile and blinks. X starts gasping for
air. I bend down to him. “You okay?”

He gets to his feet and heads
inside, slamming the door after him.

The court’s a mess, filled with mud and water. “Clean this up,” I tell the
girls. “Come on, Stretch. We’re going.”

“Where? You said to clean up.”

“I meant them.” I eye the triplets. “You’re lucky to get away with this. I’m not going to tell my dad you almost killed us. And if Washington finds out about this? They won’t like to hear that the kids are trying to kill each other. Come on, Stretch.”

ou should talk to your perverted friend. It’s him you should be worried about,” Air says.

“Why?” I ask.

“Didn’t you hear what happened?” Furball says, glancing at Stretch. He averts his gaze from her.

“No, I haven’t really been around lately. What’s going on?” I
ask. None of them talk. “Stretch?”

He stretches his arms
down the court. “He’s been acting weird.” He shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“Caused some trouble in the
Sim Room yesterday and was dismissed from practice. We think he’s doing drugs,” H
O says. Oh, no. He’s been clean for two years. I don’t want him getting back into that.

“We gotta talk to him, Stretch,” I say. He nods. “Later, girls.

Stretch and I enter the building and take an elevator up to X’s room. He shares it with Speed, which basically means he lives alone, since Speed’s pretty much in his own world. I knock on the door once we get there. No answer. I knock a second time and still nothing.

“X? You in there?”

The door opens and shuts so fast I almost miss it. “Speed! Get back here.”

He pops in front of us and starts his pee dance. “What’s up?”

“Is X in there?” I ask.

Speed looks toward the door and his eyebrows knit. “Dunno.
He could be. I didn’t see him.”

“Open the door.”


“Open it, please. This is important.”

“Okay.” Speed unlocks the door and runs off.

Stretch and I step inside. X i
s lying on his bed, earbuds plugged in his ears. I don’t think he’s even listening to the music because his head isn’t bobbing to the beat like it usually does. Stretch and I move closer. He doesn’t see us, so I tap his shoulder. One look at us and he grunts.

“X, what’s up with you?” I ask, sitting on the floor. Stretch
finds some chips and doesn’t hesitate to chomp down a few. X sits up and pulls the earbuds off. He grunts again. “Whatever it is, you can tell us. You know that, right?”

He crosses his arms over his chest.

“If it’s drugs—” Stretch says, mouth full.

“It’s not drugs,” X snaps.

“What, then?” I ask.

He’s quiet. Then he gets up and locks the door to his room. He faces us. “We’re

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