Chicago

Kayla still isn’t really sure she isn’t dreaming. Her brother Max, who is supposed to be in New York, has been telling the story of what happened to him the night before.

When he first showed her his powers, she almost fainted. Some kind of security guard! But how do you react logically to the news that your slacking younger brother can turn into a laser now?

He’s been going on for hours now. First he wanted to show her how many tricks he’s already mastered. Then how awesome the situation is. Then he bragged that he went to the Moon and how awesome it was. Then what he’s going to do with this awesome powers, that he’s going to be a superhero and fight evil. Then he said how everything is awesome now, to the point that the word “awesome” is starting to make her sick.

-Okay, let me get this straight – she interrupts him – You went to a bar where the waitress was a goddess. Then an alien blob that looked like a woman teleported you on the Moon with a rock, then used the rock to disintegrate you, the goddess put you back together and now you’ve got powers?

-Pretty much. Isn’t it…

-If the next word that comes out of your mouth is “awesome” I swear to God I’m gonna shoot you.

-…cool? We also saved New York from a meteor!

-Nice job at that; did you see the news? It looks like a warzone!

-I sort of did see it. I turned into radio waves and bounced between a few stations, but it gave me a headache so I stopped.

-You made billions of damages…wait, you can turn into radio waves too?

-I think I can turn into any kind of energy.

-You think.

-Have you ever turned into energy before, sis? It’s not like you see a giant neon sign telling you what you’ve turned into.

-Or you could ask the goddess – Kayla answers.

Max opens his mouth to answer, then stops realizing he really doesn’t have anything to say except:

-You know, that’s actually a good idea.

-Max, you mean it never came to your mind to ask some questions to the person that gave you superpowers!?

-Hey! You came up with that idea! Wait, that’s actually worse, isn’t it?

Kayla sighs. Her brother has never been the sharpest mind in the world, but now he’s trapped in a permanent sugar high. Just then, her phone starts ringing.

-Just pray this isn’t my boss calling – she warns him, answering the phone.

-Hello?

I am Null – answers a female voice on the other side.

-Do I know you?

I must speak to your brother. Now.

Kayla looks at her brother, then puts the call on speaker and hands the phone to Max.

-Hello? Is this Null?

Drop the speaker, mister Black. I have no need to talk to miss Black.

-Definitely Null. What’s up?

This is supposed to be a private conversation, mister Black.

-Call me Max. So, do you want me to join your team?

My what?

-Your superhero team!

What are you talking about?

-I can turn into energy, Vesta can fly and shoot fire, and you’ve got that glowing eyes thing.

-Hello?

Can I speak to your sister?

-I’ve got a better idea! – Max answers, disappearing so quickly to let the phone fall to the ground.

 

New York

Noriko also drops the phone when Max appears right in front of her in the blink of an eye, on the other side of the phone booth. This being New York, very few people notice.

-These things still work? I thought everyone had a cell these days – he wonders.

-I did own a cell phone. I dismantled it before breakfast to build a spectrometer – she answers, stepping out of the booth.

She takes a long look; she really didn’t have the time the night before. He’s still wearing the same T-shirt and grey hoodie.

-So. How did you know I was at my sister’s?

-I know everything. I am…

-Yes, yes, you’re Null, I know that. You don’t need to tell me every five minutes. What does it mean, exactly? Is that, like, your codename? ‘Cause it sucks.

-Excuse me? – she asks, raising an eyebrow.

-Well I don’t get “supersmart Asian chick with freaky silver eyes” from “Null”.

-It’s my last name.

-But it doesn’t mean anything! Now if your surname was Danger or Doom, I’d understand you hammering on the point. Hey, you know what? You should call yourself Doctor Null!

-That doesn’t make any sense, I’m not a doctor. Is there any chance you may listen to me?

-I’ve been thinking about my name too. All the good ones are taken. I was thinking something that starts with The, but I can’t think of anything that’s not been done before or which doesn’t sound dumb. I’ll probably have to go with something very generic, but do you have any idea how many superhero names sound corny when you say them out loud?

Noriko sighs. This is probably a bad idea.

-Max, you’re giving me seven billion headaches right now. I was going to ask you if I could study your powers, so that I could get an insight on how the Heart of the Universe works.

-Sure. Which way’s the base, Doctor Null?

-Just Null. Noriko, if you absolutely must.

 

Inside the building, Noriko is opening the door to the apartment. Max is still talking.

-Maybe The Laser. Too bad The Flash is taken. Hey Nori, if you know everything, does that mean that if someone tries to rob a bank you know it immediately?

-No, I don’t have access to this level of detail. I only know something if enough people already know; I can tell you how many banks were robbed yesterday. None in this city, by the way.

-Then how do we stop bank robbers?

-Why do you want to do that?

-‘Cause it’s what superheroes do. What if I fly around at the speed of light looking for crime?

-Because then you’d need to…Max?

Noriko turns around, discovering that he’s disappeared. She sighs again, looking for the keys in her pocket. Before she can open the door, he’s behind her again.

-I didn’t find anything.

-Of course you didn’t; in your light form you’re too fast to experience more than very quick snapshots. You’d need to fly everywhere twenty four-seven. Can you even see things when you’re made of light?

-Sort of. What if I stop time like I did yesterday?

-What are you talking about?

-I dunno. I thought I was light, but it felt very different from what I’ve been able to do so far.

-I don’t think that was light; possibly neutrinos or some unknown particle. Amazing. The first time I have a free afternoon I’ll rewrite quantum physics just to explain you.

-Hey, what about Quantum? That sounds cool, right?

-If I agree, will you shut up?

-“Quantum, the man of energy”. Or something like that.

-It sounds totally cool – Noriko says with the most bored and deadpan voice ever heard.

Then she opens the door. Vesta greets her with a warm smile; her hands are holding something.

-Welcome home! I removed all the surveillance cameras. I hope you don’t mind.

-I didn’t build those. How…nevermind. We’ve got work to do. This is Max Black.

-Call me Quantum – Max adds.

-We’ve met. You guys hungry? I made cookies!

 

Noriko just pushes Vesta aside, walking nervously inside and grabbing a cookie.

-Whoever was monitoring us knows what happened tonight. The world is likely to know the truth sooner than expected…that the impossible is very real. I must take action to protect the Heart of the Universe from inferior minds.

-Which means… – says Max.

-I need a million dollars.

-To do what? – the goddess asks.

-Miracles – answers the teenager with a mind the size of a planet, while eating a cookie.



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