"You can rip me up, slash the whip across my face, and see what that gives you! But I can assure you it won't be worth it! IT WON'T BE WORTH IT!" I took a deep breath as I hit the chord on my electric guitar. Lights shined in my face and winds brushed past lifting up the cape that was my long brown hair. I could barely hear the cheers of the crowd before me over the sound of the song pounding in my ears. I could feel adrenaline rushing through me, pumping through my veins like a drug. This is what I lived for; this is what I dreamed of.
Dylan picked up the next lines, each of us taking turns as we raced our way like horses through the song. We often joked we were bred for this and the way we worked together could only prove it. Colored lights swished back and forth across the stage, the glare from them often momentarily blinding me. It was a nuisance I was still adjusting to. I knew I wasn't the only one bothered by the stage effects because Anthony often complained about the fog machine messing with his sinuses. None of us were really used to the use of stage effects, but our manager had been quite firm in her persistence for their use. I only conceded after Alex complained about the woman waiting outside the girl's bathroom at our dorms to bug me when I got out of the shower that day.
Cheers erupted from the crowd as the song weaved to a close. I knew without looking behind me that my band mates had begun to bow. I bowed as well as more people cheered us on. I smiled broadly as I waved to the crowd and grabbed the microphone.
"Thank you Columbia! You've been a great audience tonight and I know all the members of Fantasy Reform look forward to playing here again! Drive home safely and good night!" I turned and shifted my guitar onto my back. The noise from the crowd grew louder as my band began to exit stage left. My ears began to ring and I grimaced. My hands found the purple Beats headphones hanging around my neck and slid them over my ears. The racket immediately died down to a dull roar. I felt an arm slide around my shoulders and glanced to my right. Dylan was looking back at me. He motioned to his ears and I pointed to my head in response. He nodded, understanding that the whole ordeal was hurting my ears.
Alex and Anthony walked in front of Dylan and I, leading us backstage to our dressing rooms. The back hall was all wood for the most part. There were five rooms in the area where we were staying for now. There were four dressing rooms, one for each of us. This consisted of a small room with a closet, a dressing table, a bathroom, and other usual dressing room stuff. Then, there was a large room on the left side of the hall that was sort of s meeting area and where the four of us were heading now. It was where our manager, Janet Morningstar, was awaiting us.
Janet Morningstar, our manager and the most annoying/stalkerish person on the planet as far as I am concerned. All four of the band members agree that she's about as weird as they come (which says something given our interests), but she's also one of the best in the business and our only true shot at the big leagues. So, we're kind of stuck with her in case that was not obvious. How to describe her… well she's tall. At least, I think she is but she's constantly in like foot tall heels that are always blood red for some reason so she might actually be short and I just cannot tell. She's got curly red hair and is covered in freckles which Dylan always jokes are all the souls she's stolen from her clients. Her eyes are a bright yellowish hazel color that seems to stare straight through you. She wears red like 99.999999 percent of the time I've seen her. Her preferred choice in outfit is a white long sleeved shirt with a red vest and a red mini-skirt to match. She also wears the blood red heels, a stylish red headband to go with the heels, and usually a random necklace to go with. I've never actually seen her wear the same necklace twice so my band mates and I usually make bets on what the necklace will be each time we see her. Tonight it was what appeared to be the country of Germany.
"Yes!" I heard Anthony whisper from in front of me as we filed into the room. He had bet on it being a country. I owed him twenty dollars. Janet was sitting on the blue chair in the center of the room, currently typing away on her new Android smartphone with her long (I bet you can't guess what color) red nails. She didn't look up as we took our seats on the two baby blue sofas on the opposite side of the room from her. I slid off my headphones as the silence became deafening. I could hear Dylan rapping his knuckles repeatedly on the arm of the sofa. I usually was a fan of his impatient beats, they often became some of the basis for our songs, but right now I wasn't in much of a mood for them. I shot Dylan a glare that caused him to freeze. He quickly tucked his fist between his legs and began to look around the room. That's when Janet spoke up.
"Darlings! When did you come in? You were all so quiet I barely noticed you just now?" Janet cried as she stood up and approached us. I heard Alex mumble something underneath her breath, no doubt about Janet's obliviousness if I had to guess. "So how was the show? Are we on our road to success more so now than ever?" She asked eagerly.
"Yes ma'am." I replied, rubbing my fingers against my temple. "That we are. Can we just skip the politeness tonight please? I've got a migraine coming on and I really just want to get to somewhere dark if that's alright with you." Janet's gaze locked with mine and I caught the heat of her anger seething for a second before a mask slid into place. Her usual naïve expression had fallen back into place.
"Of course my darling. Well, here's the news I've got for you. Our next stop is Atlanta, Georgia. You'll perform there in two nights and then we're off to Florida. I managed to fit in a weekend for Universal Studios just as you requested." I heard Dylan and Alex whisper a yes. Even Anthony offered a rare smirk. What could we say? Most of us (Anthony excluded) had been to Disney World before and we didn't really want to go again. Universal was the one place that none of us had been to yet in that area. "However, in order to arrange that you do have to perform a concert live on Saturday. I figured that was no big deal really." For once I had to agree with Janet. Three days of playing at Universal and all we had to do was a two-hour concert. Fair trade if you asked me. "And that about sums up all I needed to tell you. If I need to inform you of something else I'll text it to you, alright?"
"Yes ma'am." We all answered in perfect harmony. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we were ready to just get back on the tour. The tour bus was waiting out back. I'm not kidding when I say we all pretty much made a mad dash for our fortress of solitude. I briefly heard the ringing of fans cheers as we exited the arena and ran to the bus, but the sound was cut off as soon as we got inside. Our driver smirked at our exasperated expressions.
"Fame starting to get to you?" He asked. I just groaned loudly and walked towards the back of the bus. He snickered at me and added, "I'll take that as a yes."
"It was a yes Tyson." Alex said as she followed me to the back of the bus. The boys weren't too far behind her.
I guess now would be an appropriate time to introduce you to the team. First, our percussionist, Dylan Thomas. He's the oldest at nineteen years old. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, his father died before Dylan really got to know the man. Dylan's mother travelled for a living and it paid well so, not wanting to take the risk of quitting her job, his mother opted to take Dylan with her on many of her trips earlier in his life. By the time he was five and ready to start school, Dylan had already been to more countries than most people ever visit in a lifetime. He was often pulled out of school for these trips because his mom refused to hire a nanny year round. As a result of spending very little time in Ireland, his accent is… well practically non-existent. You can only really hear it when he's completely pissed off, which I've only witnessed once. Overall Dylan's a pretty levelheaded guy and sweet as all get out. I'm also pretty sure he has an addiction to Guinness but he's either really good at hiding it or it's not as bad as I fear because I don't see him drinking it that often. Though now that I think about it, it could be because he's in America where it's illegal for him to drink. Eh that's beside the point. Appearance wise Dylan has clay brown hair with ocean blue eyes. He gets that from his dad, who was from Germany. His skin is pretty fair and he's covered in freckles. He gets that from his mom, who is from Ireland. Dylan is about 5'8 and I have no idea how much he weighs so don't ask. He's sensitive about it. He's also pretty strong, able to lift me with ease, as well as the metal table we have towards the front of the bus. Dylan's also very smart. Since his mom travelled a lot he didn't get much into social media until high school, so as a child he studied for fun. He and I often have random trivia face offs. He usually wins those but I can usually kick his butt at Trivia Crack so we're even. So the question you're probably wondering after all of this is, why is he in America? Because of me of course! Back in 2011 I took a two-week trip during the summer to go to Italy. Long story short I fell down the Spanish Steps and he was the first person to help me up. Alex often jokes it was love at first sight, which it wasn't, but it was pretty darn close to it. Though we didn't get official until he came to America, the chemistry was there. We're still pretty quiet about it but I think a lot of our fans have figured it out after three concerts and an interview.
Next up, my best friend forever Alex Hazel! She's half witch. Nah just kidding. Her mom always said that she was a witch (the good kind not the evil ones that lure children into their houses with sweets) so I often teased her that she was a half witch. Alex is eighteen and plays bass. She actually never really considered playing bass until we had the idea of forming a band. Turns out she has natural talent for playing the bass. Alex was born in Greenville, South Carolina and we actually met our freshmen year of high school. It was an instant friendship and it's one I'll treasure forever. Beyond the occasional trips to Michigan, Alex has never travelled out of state before. Still, she loves to travel, which she attributes to her aunt, who also loves to travel. Alex is really into martial arts and staying healthy. She's a first-degree black belt in Taekwondo and is working her way through Jeet Kune Do (aka Bruce Lee style). Alex is also very health conscious which is why she gets her own fridge in the back while the rest of us eat McDonalds. Though I will admit half the time when we stop for fast food we are doing it just to mess with Alex because she always says, "You will die! That food is poison!" Alex is somewhat split personalitied in that fact that she's a very determined and stressed person half the time and the other half she's as laid back and lazy as one can get. She's also got many tomboy tendencies. Alex usually is the one that gets rid of all the bugs, especially the cockroaches because, let's face it, those are the devil's children. Alex has short blond hair, about shoulder length, and blue silver eyes. She is Caucasian, but has somewhat of a tan from all the time she spends working out in the sun for her parents. She typically wears a combination of reds and blues but it isn't uncommon for her to wear her mom's designer line. Her mom was once a fashion designer. I sometimes wear some of her stuff. My favorite piece of her mother's design are these shorts she did for me that have a blue fabric cuff at the bottom that reads "blah blah blah" all the way around. She's close to 5'3 if I had to guess because we're about the same height and, once again, I have no idea about her weight, so don't ask.
Next up, our keyboard player, Anthony Arnold. He's also eighteen but he's younger than Alex by about two months. You know the always silent but deadly character that's in every awesome group? This is that character. Anthony doesn't express his emotions that often. He's not one for it so it's hard to read him. Still, Anthony will voice his opinions when he finds it necessary. He's also the subject of a lot of teasing from the rest of us just to see if he'll show some sort of emotion. We're dragging him to the movie Inside Out when it comes out to see if we can diagnose what's wrong with him. All jests aside, Anthony is an awesome friend. Because he doesn't talk much, he's a great listener and actually has a lot of good advice if you ask it of him. Anthony's also into a lot of video games. I believe, right now, his favorite series is Fallout but don't hold me to that because his favorite changes quite frequently. He and I often play video games together when we have nothing better to do. Anthony is also kind of like the voice of reason. See, Dylan and I are always coming up with crazy shenanigans and dragging Alex along with us to perform these shenanigans. Anthony is usually that guy that tries to stop us and either fails epically or, on the rare occasion, succeeds. And then if we get in trouble for something, he usually gives us a firm scolding. Most of the time that's just like a two-sentence version of "I told you so" and then the stink eye for a couple of days. It's not very effective but hey, it's what he does. Anthony also tends to use his height to his advantage when trying to keep us out of trouble. He has a hard time enforcing that when Dylan's involved, since Anthony's only 5'6, but if it's just me or if it's just me and Alex, he can usually use his height to enforce his point better. Not very effective, but still work occasionally. Anthony's originally from Woodward, Oklahoma. He and I originally met on a forum online. When we were telling each other where we lived at one point, I can remember teasing him because the hint he gave me was "W***w***". My immediate response was "Wildwest," Oklahoma. I'm pretty sure that's not a thing though. Well there is a North, South Carolina so what do I know. Anyway, we had always planned to meet but it was completely by chance that his stepfather's job had him move to Greenville, where I lived. His whole family moved out to Greenville and we ended living in the same neighborhood. Crazy how that worked. As a result he's got kind of an Okie accent. If you've ever heard southern drawl, take out all the dialect except for y'all and that's pretty much his accent. It's similar to what Alex and I have except we take a lot quicker. His hair is brown that goes a little bit past his shoulders and his skin is pretty tan from all the time he spent in marching band. No he didn't play keyboard in the marching band (I'm not sure that's possible). Anthony played the clarinet and he's really good at it too! He sometimes still plays for us if we haven't got a clue what to do. He plays the jeopardy theme song very well. Anthony's also got blue eyes and says I'm allowed to mention he's a few pounds overweight. He's also got a beard that runs down the side of his face to just under his chin. He doesn't like it though, wants more on the chin.
Finally, there's little old me. I'm Sloane Jackson, seventeen years of age, and I'm both the lead singer and the guitarist in our band. I'm actually the reason the band started and I'm not bragging or anything, but it was my idea. See, there was a battle of the bands at my high school and I really wanted to enter. After much protest from the other three, I finally convinced them and it turned out we were really good. That's also kind of how we got our name. Fantasy Reform, being a band had been my dream, but it had reshaped into a much different idea than what I had wanted when I was a kid. But I digress. So, in case you couldn't tell, I do have a case of ADHD. It's not too bad but I tend to get easily distracted and I can't sit still at all. I also tend to space out randomly. Otherwise I've been described as kind, optimistic, and nerdy. I love to play video games, especially Pokémon, which was the first gaming series I got into. I especially love the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games with PMD: Blue being my favorite. I am pretty hard on myself when it comes to grades and as a result I do have my depression moments, but I make sure no one sees them. I also want to be an author, which means I write a lot, but that also has taxing results. I tend to freak out really badly if someone doesn't like my work or if I'm not the best, since writing is my only true talent besides singing and playing the guitar, it's something I want to excel in. It hurts when I can't excel. Thankfully I've got some good support behind me all the time. I also like to make movies and sprite stuff but I'm not very good at either of those. Never ask me to cook or draw. Those are Alex's things. I will blow something up and you'll end up with a stick figure. Alex will give you a five-course meal and the Mona Lisa. Got it? Good. I'm comedically small, I'm about 5'3, just barely shy of it, but I still wear children's shoes and I can fit inside a school locker. My hands are small enough to form fists inside coffee cups. I'm pretty pale, somewhere between Dylan and Alex but more towards Dylan than Alex. Insects tend to hate me so I generally stay inside. I also burn quite easily and sunscreen does nothing for me so I don't even bother with it. My eyes are brown like wet dirt, I've got a few freckles around my nose, and I've got long brown hair that's similar in color to my eyes that sinks down past my butt. Yes, it does hurt to sit on it and no it does not take forever to wash. Though I do go through a conditioner bottle in less than a week. My favorite color's purple so that's what I usually wear. My ears are really sensitive and legally I'm supposed to wear glasses because I can't see more than a few inches in front of me without them, but I usually wear contacts for concerts.
Of course, Fantasy Reform is more than just a band. See, our debut as a band at school did more to us than we thought.
The tires of our bus screeched loudly as the whole vehicle jerked to a stop. I was thrown forward and hit the ground, Anthony right beside me. Alex and Dylan had managed to hang on to where we had been sitting.
"Yo Tyson!" Alex called. "What gives man?" I heard Tyson groan a little then he glanced over his shoulder at us.
"Seems there's a pretty bad wreck up ahead. The whole road is closed off while they're trying to think of a detour but it doesn't look good."
"Why?" I asked, trying to connect the dots, "What’s wrong?"
"The whole place has pretty much been torn to shreds. It looks like The Akumu struck again." The four of us exchanged looks. The Akumu, Japanese for nightmares, were a group of four super villains that travelled around the world terrorizing places. The only reason they hadn't been caught is because no one could figure out their alter egos. I've always speculated they might be a band or something, because they travel all over quite a bit, and only bands and flight attendants travel that much.
"You think they're still close by?" Tyson opened his mouth to answer when the whole place began to shake. I was taking that as a yes since Columbia, South Carolina was not on a major fault line last I checked. I glanced behind me at the other three. "Duty calls."
Yeah, so, Fantasy Reform, also a group of superheroes. I know, awesome right? It was completely by chance but we ended up with these super powers. Granted they aren't the best out there, but we definitely work as a team out there. All we have to say four little lines and our powers come to life.
"My voice is my only weapon…"
"La musica è letto come menti…"
"Accords sont frappés comme des allumettes…"
"Las vibraciones que me detengan…"
I took a deep breath as I felt my vocal chords come alive with what could only be called a spark. I still was getting used to this feeling but at the same time I didn't ever want to. It was powerful and addictive, but it also meant I couldn't talk. My hearing began to sharpen I began to hear every detail in the world around me. The people in the car behind us were arguing about if they should turn around or not, the man walking down the street was eating a burrito that he hadn't paid for, and the cops were freaking out because the Akumu were attacking. I glanced down at myself. The perks of this was that the costume came with the powers… or the powers came with the costume, I'm not sure which to be honest. But I was dressed in a skintight purple and black suit with a mask covering my eyes and nose. I had on black gloves and I knew my hair was now tied into a bun. Black boots to match the gloves adorned my feet, made just for the quick movements I would need.
Beside me, Alex's eyes had changed to a golden color and she was dressed in a tank top with long pants and boots. Her clothes were a mix of fiery colors, the Orange, yellow, and red blending together to make her a living inferno. Her mouth and nose was covered by a mask, somewhat like a ninja's. Mine probably would be too except for my power kind of requires me to have an open mouth.
Next up was Anthony. He was now dressed in all black, a hoodie, jeans, and sneakers. He looked pretty casual except for his eyes were now two different colors, one blue and one brown. The hoodie was enough cover for his identity, as it cast an almost impenetrable shadow over his face.
Lastly was Dylan. I'm just going to say it now, but the man looks hot in his outfit. Dylan is in gray pants with a white shirt and black leather jacket. He's got on black high tops and Raybanz, the only thing hiding his identity.
We didn't look much like superheroes, but we sure as heck were superheroes.
Tyson didn't give us a second look as we piled out of the bus.
"They're two blocks up!" He yelled after us.
"Dylan! Can you give us a lift?" I instructed.
"On it!" Dylan snapped his fingers and instantly gravity no longer existed for us. Dylan's power pretty much cancelled out the gravity of either an area or individual objects. He had a pretty good handle on it given we had only gotten these powers a few months ago, but he said it took a lot of mental work to keep his power up for a long time. We all suspected it was why he was so prone to headaches now.
Having already done this a few other times, we were now somewhat experienced in the art of running through the air in zero gravity. It's not as hard as you think. It's just like running on the ground but you're in the air.
"I sense them a block east of our current position." Anthony interjected. "It appears they're planning to take over the State House." Figured out his power yet? I'll give you a hint; he wasn't hearing with his ears what he just told us.
"Thanks Anthony. Alex, you ready?"
"Let's do this." Gravity slowly came back into play and, as soon as it was safe, we took off running. Alex and I sprinted down the vacant streets where car alarms and breaking glass echoed off the buildings. I had to admit, as we drew closer to the battlefield, I became increasingly nervous. This would only be our second fight with these guys and the first one didn't go over very well. Back then none of us had any control over our abilities. None we at least have some control but, unlike the boys, Alex and I aren't very close to mastering our abilities. It might be due to the aggressive nature of our abilities but they're very hard for us to get a handle on. The Akumu were like trained professionals, and by those odds we didn't stand much of a chance. However, I wasn't just going to stand by and watch either.
Alex and I rounded the corner and spotted two individuals flying around. One had wings and tail like that of a dragon smoke curling from his lips. I could barely see him, the darkness of the night giving him a shadow to blend into. The other showed up like a Phoenix, fire encompassing her entire body as she soared around like a bird. The two were torching the place as they went, shooting flames at cars and buildings. I looked at Alex, who nodded at me the covered, her ears. I took a deep breath then yelled,
"HEY!!" You could literally see the sound waves as they shot from me towards the two individuals. Shattering the windows on the buildings as they passed, the sound waves hit the two head on. It didn't seem to do much though; it actually seemed to make them angrier. That was no my intention, but then again neither was shattering all those windows just now.
"Who dares approach us?" The man called to us. Alex stepped forward this time.
"Those who wish to stop your attack on this city," she answered. "Cease your actions now or else we'll have to take you in." The two individuals stared at us for a moment before bursting into laughter. Alex bristled. "What's so funny?" she snarled at them, the air around her sharply increasing in temperature.
"Oh I'm sorry," the woman replied. "I just found it quite comedic that you thought you could stand up to us." I took several steps back, holding back at yelp as I nearly missed being scorched by Alex. A red aura seemed to encircle her body.
"Who says we can't?" Alex snapped at the woman. She was losing her hold on her temper. This phoenix woman sure knew how to push a person's buttons.
"I do." A chill shot straight up my spine as a cold breath struck my ear. The deep voice that had answered Alex had come from right behind me, and I hadn't even heard the man coming. Alex looked over her shoulder and saw my terrified look. She shook her head quickly at me. I was scared out of my mind, but if I screamed I could do more damage than any of these goons. I bit my lip as I felt a cold metallic hand touch the base of my spine.
"See little girls, you stand no chance against us." My eyes focused on the dragon man landing right in front of Alex. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Before Alex could even fully look at the man, he had a strong grip on her shoulder and his fist connected with her jaw. Alex's head snapped back sharply and, like a match at a gas station, the place lit up.
I was shot backwards about a block with whoever was touching me. It would have hurt a lot probably but the guy broke my fall. It still hurt, but not as much. However, I was very disoriented. My vision was spinning, my limbs were numb, and my ears were ringing like hell. It wasn't until I felt cold metal around my throat and my lungs began to scream that I came to my senses. I began to struggle, kicking out as my hands flew to my throat, trying to pry the metal fingers from my windpipe. I felt my foot connect against something, but the robot man person thing didn't even grunt. In fact, it probably hurt me more than it hurt him, because my foot felt like I had just kicked a cement block. I accidentally screamed in pain, but not air would pass my lips, not a shockwave to be formed. My lungs felt like they were collapsing in on themselves and my vision began to darken. The last thing I saw was Alex, a block away, getting punched right in the side of her head.
It was cold and damp. Colder and damper than I was used to. That was saying something because my dad kept the house about thirty degrees most days. Still, this was different. I felt chilled to my very core here, and the air felt wet and stale. Everything was pitch black around me; I could not see a thing. I wasn't wearing my glasses though, that I noticed, so I would have been blind anyway, unless I still had my contacts in. I felt cold air descending into the room from what I would guess to be an air conditioning unit above me. I also realized quickly that the reason I was so cold was because I wasn't wearing any clothes. Odd how I figured out I wasn't wearing any glasses before I figured out the clothes thing.
I curled into a ball and shivered, trying to maintain some body warmth. My eyes never did adjust, which meant that I was in total darkness. I could only hear my own panicked breath and I had no idea what to do. It was then that I heard a lock drop. It was loud and hurt my ears. A door to my right was flung open, light pouring into the room I was in. I was temporarily blinded and covered my eyes in pain. I felt the mechanical hands that had nearly killed me earlier pick me up. My body could only shiver as I was carried into the light. As my eyes adjusted, I felt myself being covered with a robe and lead through a room with a nicely waxed floor.
"Anyone planning on telling me what's going on?" Silence. "That's what I thought." Yeah so the robot guy and whatever cronies were with him were giving me the silent treatment as they escorted me to who knows where. My eyes were still freaking out; I could only see various degrees of white. It hurts. Finally, we stopped. Or rather, they pulled me to a stop. Before I could react, a metal contraption went around my mouth. They had muzzled me. Clever.
As I was forced to my knees, my eyes finally started to give me some decent insight into my surroundings. There were two figures on their knees to my right and one to my left. I could only guess that these were my teammates, but given the silence, they were either muzzled too or something was intimidating them into silence. I was hoping it was that first option.
"We have brought them to you sir," I heard robot man say. I glanced up a little and saw a man sitting in what I could only guess to be a throne. I noticed the man shift and then stand up, his feet making a clicking sound as they touched the floor.
"These are the resistors you met in Columbia?" The voice was deep, heavy with interest and layered with disgust. It lacked any distinguishable accent, which meant he was probably from the south; since that's the only accent I can't distinguish. Still, it sent chills through my body as his words grazed my ears.
"Yes sir." I heard the scraping scratching noise that is robot man's voice reply.
"Did they put up much of a fight?" My eyes began to return to full condition. I could make our more of the man. He was black. Not black like the ethnicity, but actually black. His skin was black, his hair was black, and his clothes were black. Even the mechanical wings on his back were black! Wait… mechanical wings? I narrowed my eyes suspiciously but they were there. Folded on his back, just barely visible to me, was a pair of mechanical wings.
"No sir. They don't see to have much control of their powers." That was that dragon guy's voice. Good to know he's still alive. In case you couldn't tell that was sarcasm. I looked to my right and left. To my right was Alex, muzzled and soaked with water. Her hands were cuffed behind her back and she was in a robe just like mine. To my right were Dylan and Anthony. They, too, were muzzled and handcuffed, with Dylan's entire hands being suited in mechanical locks and Anthony's head squeezed like a melon wearing a headband. They had on identical robes too. None of us looked very happy with what was happening.
"Oh really?" The man who had come from the throne looked down at us with interest. "Is this true children?" I saw Alex bristle out of the corner of my eye, but I felt no heat. The water was keeping her from using her power it seemed. He smiled at us devilishly and then looked beyond us. "Omega," the robot man stepped forward, "see to it you dispose of them."
"Yes Thanatos." Almost as soon as these words reached my ears, a weird scent hit my nose, and darkness swallowed everything.
I sat up abruptly, breathing hard and swallowing roughly. I looked around and noticed immediately we were in the tour bus. I looked at the clock. It was five in the morning. The others were sound asleep given the snores.
I slipped out of bed carefully, wondering if it had all been dream. The cries my joints filled me with quickly determined otherwise. So how had we ended up back here? I walked to the front of the bus and saw Tyson driving. He noticed me as well.
"Good morning Sloane. Not able to sleep?"
"I think I had a nightmare." I answered honestly.
"Did it consist of you getting captured in Columbia then being taken to Thanatos's palace?"
"Yes? Well… maybe on the Thanatos part but the rest yes."
"It wasn't a dream then." I stared at our bus driver. Tyson just watched the road ahead of us. How the heck could he know? I mean, my aches and pains made me think that none of this had been a dream, but at the same time having Tyson of all people confirm it. Tyson was mainly the tech guy, giving us directions and what not.
"How do you-"
"Well when you didn't come back after the tremors stopped and reports came in of an explosion in downtown I figured Alex had lost control of her powers again. So I sent two of the Dummies to downtown. They reported that every building for several blocks had all the windows broken and huge scorch marks were on the street, but there was no sign of you guys or any potential enemies." All right, pause. To quickly elaborate, the Dummies that Tyson is referring to are his power. Pretty much, when the four of us received our powers, Tyson had just entered the room and got struck. His power is the ability to duplicate himself. The duplicates have some sort of mental messaging system with him to where Tyson can send instructions to them with his mind and apply their senses to his so he can hear what they are hearing, etcetera. He's actually got a pretty good handle on his powers compared to the rest of us. The only drawback is the more he duplicates himself the less quality the duplicates become. He's working on making more quality copies but so far his limit is three before they start to deteriorate. All right, unpause.
"When I found out they couldn't find you guys I assumed that they had captured you, but I couldn't figure out how to track them or anything. It was like they hadn't left a trace. Of course, you know by this point I'm starting to freak out. I had the Dummies scour city. We didn't find any sign of you besides what we had already found, so you can imagine my surprise when we found the four of you unconscious at the explosion site. You're lucky the Dummies found you before the authorities, because your disguises weren't on." I glanced down and shook my head.
"That would have been terrible." I surmised. The press would have been all over us if the authorities had found us first. I paused. How had the authorities not found us first? We would have been in the middle of a crime scene. Surely they would have spotted us at least lying there, let alone being dropped off!
"You guys were being cloaked." Tyson said, once again practically reading my mind. "They had clipped devices to you that prevent people without powers to see you. At least, I'm guessing since the Dummies and I were able to see you."
"It makes sense. But still, this bugs me. Why let us go?"
"To instill fear is my guess. They realized who you were and didn't want to make a scene, so they made an impression then let you off. Villains tend to do that." Tyson had a point. I yawned as I gave a slow nod.
"Well, this has been nice but you need to focus on driving and I suddenly feel like sleeping again. We'll talk later?"
"Over breakfast." Tyson confirmed.
"See you then." I gave Tyson a short wave then walked back to my bunk. Slipping into the covers, I welcomed the warmth and curled like a caterpillar into a cocoon. Sleep came as quickly as it had left me not long before.
"Are you sure this is safe?"
"Oh quit being such a wuss! You don't hear Anthony complaining!"
"He doesn't talk anyway!"
"Actually, I can speak, I just choose not to."
"You're not helping!"
"Guys! Just shut up!"
Alex, Anthony, and Dylan all looked at me in shock. It took me a moment to recognize the scene. It was the night of the battle of the bands. The night we received our powers!
"Come on!" I said, unable to move against my dream's will. "Something weird has been going on with Mr. Perkins lately. We need to figure out what." Mr. Perkins, aka Tyson's father, and the head of the English department at our school. Also one of my closest friends I had made at the school.
"Why is this any of our concern again?" Alex asked, scratching the back of her head. None of the others knew Mr. Perkins as well as I did, so they wouldn't understand. But the thing was, he had been acting really secretive at the time. It was really hard for me to understand, so I had to investigate.
"Because he's my friend! And friends help friends!" That cheesy quote earned three groans but zero protests as they followed me down the hall to Mr. Perkins's office. I knocked on the door. "Mr. Perkins!" I called. I was answered with silence. "Mr. Perkins?" I called out again. Once again I was answered with silence. I frowned. He has said he was not going to leave until later that night. I never did figure out if something had happened to him or if he had lied to me. Either way, it wouldn't have stopped me from what came next.
"Oh well. We tried. Let's go." Alex announced, turning and starting to march down the hall.
"Wait a minute!" Alex groaned loudly as she saw me digging through my jeans pocket.
"What now?" I'm pretty sure this is the only time Alex has ever truly hated me. She had every right to it too. I fished out my lock picking kit.
"I'm not sure which we should be more concerned about, the fact that she brought that or the fact that's she's breaking into a teacher's office with it." Anthony said, watching with uncertainty flickering on his face.
"Both." Dylan answered, shaking his head a little. Just as he had spoken, I heard the lock click. Pulling out my jiggle keys and the straight rod, I turned the doorknob and opened the door.
"Let's go!" My three exasperated amigos followed me into Mr. Perkins's office. For a head of the English department you would assume his office to be clean. Instead there were papers everywhere! And I mean EVERYWHERE!! It was ridiculous how unorganized it all was. I can remember how badly my OCD was going off then and it was still going off now even though I was in a dream. Brains, they're annoying even when you're asleep.
"Dudes! I feel like if I breathe wrong I'll cause an avalanche." Dylan said from behind a paper stack across the room from me.
"I second that." Alex agreed, her back to mine.
"Third it. But there's got to be some sort of clue in here." I argued, making a move for her desk.
"I would just like to remind everyone how illegal this is." Anthony chimed in from his seat at the doorway.
"We know." We answered in perfect time. I reached the desk and instantly took notice to a large book. It was brown and leather bound, a pelt on each cover. There was no title or author by the looks of it, but it was very thick. I reached down barely grazed the cover with my fingers. Instantly I could feel the power coming from within this book. It was like I had been hit with a joy buzzer only a thousand times worse. I stepped back with a gasp and nearly stumbled into a pile of papers. That drew everyone's attention.
"Whoa Sloane!" Dylan wrapped his arms around me as support. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah. That book on his desk. It's… powerful."
"Powerful?" I nodded. Alex and Dylan exchanged a look before making a move towards the desk. Alex reached out and as she touched it, her eyes went wide. Her legs gave out from under her and she fell to the ground. Anthony came over to help Alex up.
"That's some weird stuff alright." Anthony said, "Can we go now?"
"Not until we find out what it is." I remembered this part well. At about the time this was happening, Tyson had arrived on campus. His father had not come home for dinner yet and it was already an hour after the battle of the bands had finished. He knew Mr. Perkins sometimes got stuck at work so Tyson came to see if his father was all right since Mr. Perkins had not been answering his cellphone. I reached for the desk and, resisting the immense pain and power that I felt as I touched the cover, I opened the book. What happened next can only be explained as sorcery.
The words literally flew off the pages. You think I'm joking but I'm not. Words of purple, green, red, and blue struck all four of us straight in the face. I was hit was an extreme dizzy spell and fell unconscious. Now, in dream form, I was able to watch as words of silver also flew off the pages and struck the victim who had just walked in the door, Tyson. We all woke up not long later, half an hour at most. The book had disappeared, replaced with a note.
You're lucky to be alive. Don't push you luck again.
That was all it said. After that we all discovered our powers by accident. I sang at rehearsal and broke a whole bunch of glass. Dylan woke up with everything in his room on the ceiling. Anthony kept hearing thoughts that he knew for sure weren't his (the thought that said he wanted to make time with quarterback Mike Blowsky kind of gave it away). Alex burst into flames when she and I got into a fight. Tyson claimed he found out when he sneezed shortly after the incident. We kept receiving notes explaining how to activate and deactivate our powers, which was very helpful because I don't need to break glass and eardrums every time I speak.
The dream faded into darkness and I plummeted into it. As I sank, I realized that whomever took the book must know how to control them better than anyone. That should be our ultimate goal.
"More crazy schemes?" Alex asked as she took a sip of her coffee. She isn't one for crazy ideas in case that was not obvious.
"Look, I'm just saying, maybe looking for the book is not idea."
"It's the book that got us in this mess. Why would we pursue it?" Anthony tacked on.
"Because I think if it can give us powers, why can't it take them away?" I got three blanks stares.
"It's a viable possibility." Tyson called from the front of the bus. "I see no harm in finding the book or its owner. They might be able to help us."
"But what about the Akumu?" Dylan protested. "We can't just let them roam about rampaging wherever they feel like!" The bus lurched to a stop and Tyson turned around in his seat. His blue eyes narrowed at Dylan.
"I figured after last night you might have realized you're not ready to fight the Akumu. This book can prepare you. Now, come on, you can't just ignore your band leader can you?" With that, Tyson turned back around and the tour bus started up again. Besides the screech of the brakes and the sighs of the bus, there was no sound. The other three members of my band were thinking this over hard, as they were entitled to. It was a big step.
"I'm in." Anthony finally said. "Your intuition got us this far. I see no issue in following it again." I smiled at Anthony. I could always count on him for support. Alex sighed and shook her head.
"Alright I'm in too. Every time I leave you alone you almost get mugged and there's a guy unconscious in a ditch somewhere."
"That we know of." I rolled my eyes at Alex before looking at Dylan. He wouldn't look at me, which confused me. I had expected him to be the first to understand, not the last.
"What's the issue?"
"Dude, come on." Alex said. "It won't be all that bad. We could get rid of this curse! And fight bad guys!"
"I do like fighting bad guys." Dylan murmured, rubbing his chin. He shook his head. "But I'm just not-" Dylan paused when he saw me. I fluttered my eyes and jutted out my lip. The look worked almost instantly. "Fine I'm in!"
So we were a crew with a mission. Retrieve the book; find out how it gave us powers, and how to take them back. It wouldn't be long now. We would be able to fix this. Because, like Earl Nightingale said, "All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination."