[Foul language and violence ensue. Reader discretion advised.]
Nasty leaned against the wall, trying to stifle a yawn. Her arms ached after her workout. Not quite a workout. More like pounding the same punching bag over and over. Her arms felt like lead. With effort, Nasty pushed off the wall with her shoulder and trudged back towards the locker room.
"Great workout, Natasha," Christopher said, approaching her.
"Pat me on the back and you'll eat your arm," Nasty growled. Christopher stepped away from her, his hands in the air. "Learn anything yet?"
"That you're going to run through all our test dummies."
"Volunteering to be the replacement?"
"You're in a bad mood."
"Thanks for noticing." Idiot. "You and Mickey have been making me punch those dummies every minute all the time I'm here. What the hell are you two doing?"
"We're still trying to determine what sort of energy you produce. From there, we can determine what else you may be capable of."
"I am capable of great violence," Nasty said. "I'm also now capable of being in pain. I'm no closer to figuring out how to shut the damned power off except from exhaustion. Let's try working there, next."
"Patience, Nat. We'll figure that out eventually."
"I've run out of patience. I'm going to take a shower. You work on getting my hand to shut off." Nasty walked away. Moron. Does he really want me to destroy everything I fucking touch? And where does he get off calling me "Nat"? I think I prefer "Nasty" over "Nat". She stopped in front of the women's locker room. Some week this has been. Nothing's improving, Mom's acting weird even for her, school's been a blur, and somehow I have a date with Eric tonight.
Entering the locker room, Nasty shook her head. Everything's too fast for me. She yawned again. And why am I so damned tired? I'm getting more than enough sleep. I'm not working out that hard, am I? Could my power-punch be taking all that energy out of me? God, I wish they'd figure out what happened to me already.
Nasty checked the clock on the wall. Five already? Where did the time go? Eric's expecting me at six. God, I hope the date goes well. She stopped short. Where did that come from? I like him. We study together. That's all. We aren't dating. He has that bitch, oh what's her name? Tia. Right, Tia. She's in tight with him. He doesn't need me. Enough of this. I gotta get going. Brood later, after I stop smelling like the weight room.
A quick shower later, Nasty put on a black t-shirt and her favourite pair of jeans. Feeling a little more comfortable, she left the locker room and dashed to the elevator. She saw Jackson waiting in front of the elevator doors.
"Still here?" Jackson asked. "It's Friday night. I would have thought you'd have been long gone by now."
"I wasn't expecting you, either. Where's your partners?" Nasty said.
"Mikail and Christopher have left already. You have any plans this weekend?"
"Meeting a few friends, going bar hopping."
Great. He'll run into Mom. Just what I need. "Well, have fun."
"Don't tell me you're going to just work on that bike of yours all weekend."
"So what if I am?" The elevator doors opened. Nasty let Jackson enter first, then slipped into the corner opposite him. "I might go for a ride this weekend, get out of town for a bit."
"Nothing wrong with that."
Nasty felt the elevator lurch. "Can't anyone fix that?"
"You can't tell me you didn't feel the elevator bounce."
"Slightly. How are you feeling?"
"You don't want to know." Kill him later. Blood's a bitch to explain. "Can you get Mickey there to figure out what the hell is going on with my power? I'm falling asleep all the time. I'd like to enjoy my time off without constantly napping. I'm surprised I can get through school fully awake."
"I'll let him know."
The elevator doors opened once again. Nasty dashed out into the entrance shed. Jackson followed, and watched as she left. "See you Monday," he said.
"Bye." Nasty left the building and ran to her bike. I'm glad that's over. Off to Eric's and - damn! I forgot the damned essay again. Stupid! She checked her watch. Not enough time to stop at school, either. How can I be so damned stupid? Wait, Natasha. Check your saddlebags. Maybe you slipped it in there. Looking through her saddlebags, she did find the essay. When did I do that? Must have been half-asleep. No matter. At least I've got an excuse to be with Eric tonight.
Nasty kick started her motorcycle and roared out of the parking lot. As she pulled on to the main road, she saw out of the corner of her eye Jackson getting into his truck. Ignore him. I'm off the clock now. Nasty opened the throttle full, putting as much distance as she could between herself and the training site. She listened to the roar of the engine. The motor's off. I can hear it. Nasty slowed down, downshifting. She listened to how the engine reacted. Oh, come on! I worked all fucking week on it. I had it tuned. Who's been messing with my bike?
Pulling over, Nasty let her engine idle. Damnit, I'm sure I had the timing right. Let's see how it sounds now. She listened carefully to the motor, trying to hear the old problem. It sounds okay now. Another weekend shot. Nasty put the bike into gear and got back on the road. She gunned the engine, shooting down the highway. Now it's running perfectly. Great. First Eric starts acting all weird on me, now my bike. What the hell is going on?
A car suddenly pulled on to the road in front of Nasty. Nasty wrenched the handles, avoiding a collision. "Watch what you're doing, moron!" she yelled. Damned cagers. Wouldn't notice a damned bike unless we drove over them. Idiots. Nasty checked her rear view mirrors. Idiot still doesn't know what happened. What was I thinking about?
Nasty reached Eric's home and shut down her bike. She removed her helmet and shook out her hair. I'm a mess. I shouldn't be here. I should just go home and forget about all of this. She heard the front door open. Looking up, she saw Eric standing in the doorway, waving to her. Too late to back out now. Nasty sighed. Look at you, Natasha. This is Eric. You like him. You shouldn't be dreading tonight. At least look over the damned essay like you keep promising.
Slipping off the bike, Nasty picked up her saddlebags. She carried her helmet by the strap and tossed the saddlebags over her shoulder. Nasty forced a smile on her face as she walked over to greet Eric. "Hi," she said when she reached the front stoop.
"Hi, Nasty. Come on in," Eric said.
Nasty followed Eric inside to his living room. Relax, Natasha. We're here to study. That's all. It's not like I'm Mom. Nothing is going to happen. She sat down on the edge of an easy chair. "How are you?" she asked. Lame, Natasha.
"Okay," Eric said. "Want anything to drink or eat?"
"Coke, if you have it."
Eric dashed into the kitchen. Nasty heard the refrigerator door open. Calm down, Natasha. Get the essay out, at least. That's why I'm here, remember? Nasty stood up and walked to where Eric dropped her bags. She rummaged through the bags, finding the essay crumpled at the bottom. Fuck! What happened? I placed them in my book, damnit! How the hell did it get out? Great. Just fucking great.
Eric returned with two glasses in his hands. He handed Nasty a glass. Nasty took a sip of the cola, never taking her eyes off Eric. Eric looked quizzically back at her. "Something wrong, Nasty?"
I keep asking that myself. "Just the essay. I swore I put it in a book, but look at it."
"It's still readable, Nasty." Eric put his drink down. "See? It's just a little wrinkled."
"I know, but --" Nasty sighed. But I wanted it to be perfect for you but that sounds so damned silly, especially from me. I'm pathetic.
"Nothing. It's nothing, really."
Eric stood beside Nasty and put his arm around her waist. "I'm sure you did your best, Nasty." He led her to the couch. "There's nothing to be ashamed of."
Ashamed? Of a B? He's kidding, right? "Um, Eric?"
You're going to accuse him of being insensitive? Get a grip, girl! "It's nothing." Nasty stood up. "Ever have one of those days when things just don't seem, well, right?"
"A few times," Eric said. "Why?"
"Just wondering." Now he thinks you're crazy.
"It's nothing to worry about, Nasty."
When did he start calling me "Nasty"? He's never called me that. He's always called me "Tasha". Something is wrong. Nasty reached down and took Eric's hand. She pulled him up off the couch. "I just need something lately. Something I'm missing."
Eric smiled. "What do you think you need?"
Nasty pulled Eric close. He resisted briefly, but then let himself be pulled into her embrace. She hugged him tightly. Seconds lingered as Nasty kissed him.
"Wow, Nasty . . .." Eric let his voice trail off.
"I knew it. I knew this couldn't be real. You're a son of a bitch, you know that?"
"What are you talking about?"
"The real Eric never called me Nasty and would never have let me kiss him like that." Nasty powered up her fist. "The real Eric wouldn't ask if I was ashamed of my best mark this semester. Bastard!" Letting her rage fuel her punch, she belted Eric. The world around her jumped, then faded away.
Nasty opened her eyes. A dark liquid surrounded her. Panicking, she thrashed, hitting a wall around her. She quickly realized that a tube leading to a mask over her face was letting her breathe in the liquid. She took control of her panic. She started pounding on the wall above her, getting a feel of where it was. The liquid slowed her arm down to the point where she couldn't hit the wall hard enough to break it. Powering her hand, she placed it on the wall. Nasty pushed slightly. Purple energy exploded from her hand, creating a hole in the wall. She pulled her head through the hole into a brightly lit room.
Blinking, Nasty looked around. The room was completely white, and she was in a tank of some kind. She heard a groan from the floor. Pushing open the tank's door, Nasty sat up. Looking over, she saw a man doubled over, clutching his head. Nasty slipped out of the tank and on to the floor. She stumbled and leaned on the tank for support. The man rose to his knees, still holding his head. Nasty reached down and grabbed him by his lab coat collar.
"Who the hell are you and what the hell are you doing to me?" Nasty shouted. "How long have I been in there?"
Nasty shook the man. "Who the fuck are you?"
"Y-You shouldn't have been able . . .."
"Fuck this," Nasty growled. She slammed the man's head on the tank. He fell to the floor, blood flowing from a gash on his forehead. She looked around the room. Only one door - most likely guarded, she reasoned. Looking down, she realized she was nude. "Great." She turned her attention to the unconscious man. "You better be my size."
"Subject 4 is still with her?"
"Still. Subject 13 is proving most resistant. Is she worth the effort?"
"If we can control her, she will be a valuable asset. She is the first unintentional metahuman from our experiments."
"If. Are you sure she is controllable?"
"Few have resisted Subject 4. This girl won't."
"Never underestimate any of our metas, even our newest acquisition."
"Sir, there's an alarm in the facility!"
"It's Subject 13. She's breaking out!"
"Where's Subject 4?"
"We can't contact him."
"Order full quarantine procedures. Isolate her."
"No. She still has use. Subdue her, anyway you can."
[End Issue 14]
Next Issue: The great escape.