[Once again, a mature language warning for the series.]
"I am not denying anything! I didn't get into a fight, damnit!" Nasty slammed her fist on the coffee table for emphasis. With a flare of purple light and a loud bang, she punched a hole through the tabletop.
"Holy shit," Nasty whispered.
"Natasha, what happened to you?"
"Nothing," Nasty said. She stared at her hand in shock.
"Nothing? You just destroyed my coffee table!"
"I don't know! Okay?"
"Go to your room."
"I haven't done anything!"
"Please, Tasha, go to your room." Nasty looked up. Her mother stood against the far wall, holding the chair in front of her. Nasty had never seen her mother so scared.
"I'll . . . I'll be in my room." Nasty slunk out of the living room. Entering her own room, she closed the door quietly, then sat on her bed. She held her right hand in front of her and stared at it.
This can't be happening, she thought. What the hell just happened? That truck driver. He did this to me. Realization dawned on her. Those jerks. I used this . . . this . . . power on them. I could have killed them! Nasty laid back on her bed, still staring at her hand.
The next morning found Nasty still holding her hand in front of her, despite being asleep. She tossed fitfully, then woke up, beating her alarm by half an hour. Holding her right arm as far away from her as possible, Nasty changed out of her clothes from yesterday into her school uniform. She tiptoed into the kitchen, then peeked into the living room. Her mother slept on the couch, an empty bottle of tequila and a tipped over glass on the remains of the coffee table. Nasty glowered. Slipping on a light jacket, she tried to sneak out of the apartment. As she opened the door, her mother stirred.
"Natasha?" her mother said, her voice rough.
"Good morning, Mom," Nasty said.
"What time is it?"
"In the morning?"
"Yes, in the morning. look at you."
"Don't start with me, Natasha." Nasty's mom sat up on the couch, then clutched her head.
"You drank an entire bottle again, didn't you?" Nasty accused.
"I said, don't start. Where are you going?"
Nasty looked down at her uniform. "School. Where else would I be going dressed like this, the opera?"
"Don't smart mouth me, Natasha."
"Shouldn't you be getting up anyways?"
"What day is it?"
"It's Wednesday. You haven't been out that long."
Nasty's mother stood up. She swayed a little, then used the arm of the couch to regain her balance. "Need the shower?" she asked.
Nasty shook her head. "I'll get one at school."
"Why so early? You don't have a detention, do you?"
"This school? You'd have had a call from the school if that happened. This is me, Mom. I wouldn't have had a detention. They would have expelled me. And, no, I haven't been expelled, much as I would love to get away from there."
"I'm not letting them drive me out," Nasty said.
"Have you had breakfast?"
"I'll get something on the way. There's eggs in the fridge if you want any." Nasty left, closing the door behind her. She pressed the elevator call button, then tucked in her blouse as she waited. The elevator arrived empty, for which Nasty was grateful. The last thing she wanted was to deal with other tenants in the building. Her luck held out for the entire ride to the ground floor. She stepped out of the elevator and left the building.
Nasty stopped beside her Kawasaki and inspected it. She couldn't see any damage - the jocks hadn't sabotaged the bike as far as Nasty could tell. Emptying her saddle bags of the empty Coke cans, she walked over to the corner store to dump the trash. The clerk looked her over, then went back to reading his magazine. Nasty quickly found what she wanted - a six-pack of Coke and a microwavable sandwich for her lunch. She paid for her selection, then returned to her motorcycle.
Nasty enjoyed the ride to school. It was still too early for the bulk of rush hour traffic to be on the road, and the she loved having the wind blow through her shoulder-length hair. Twenty minutes later, she pulled into her school's parking lot. A few cars were already parked, but there was no one else outside besides her. Nasty grabbed her saddle bags, then entered the school. She stopped at her locker to get her gym clothes and drop off her bags, then continued to the girls' change room.
In the change room, Nasty quickly changed into her track pants. She glanced briefly at her shoulder as she put on her T-shirt, and saw that the bruising was still dark. Adjusting her shirt, Nasty left the locker room and headed to the weight room. She saw two people already there, working out together, and ignored them. She sat at the weight machine, adjusting the tension, then began her work out.
"Did you hear what happened to Tommy?" she heard one of the guys say to the other.
"He's in the hospital. He got hit by a car last night."
"Doctor's saying he's out for the rest of the year. No more football for him."
"Jeez. The team was doing so well, too. We could have made the play-offs."
Nasty snorted. Car accident my ass, she thought. Trying to save face from being beaten up by someone they outnumbered. Assholes. She stopped in mid-press. At least he's alive. I didn't kill him. Just sidelined him for the season. Way to go, Giuliano. Nasty resumed her workout, pushing herself harder. Serves him right. I was only defending myself. They were waiting for me.
Nasty finished her repetition, then left the weight room, not feeling any less tense. She returned to the change room. A few younger girls were in, getting ready for their home room phys. ed. class and chatting with each other. Nasty grabbed a spare towel, and walked into the shower. She undressed, then ran the water. Her shoulder still ached, even as the warm water ran over it. Gingerly, she touched the bruise, wincing as she felt the pain.
Done with her shower, she toweled off and put her school uniform back on. She raced through the halls to get back to her locker to get her books. With a few minutes to spare before the bell, Nasty arrived at her home room. She sat in her usual desk, close to the door. The teacher entered the room, carrying marked essays in her arms. As the teacher returned the essays, Nasty looked around the room. The quarterback was in her home room, but his usual perch was empty.
Nasty's essay fell on her desk. She glanced at it, to find her mark. Surprised, she picked up her paper to look at the mark more closely. She couldn't believe the mark - a B. She placed it back on her desk, but couldn't take her eyes off it.
"Problem, Miss Giuliano?" the teacher asked.
Nasty looked up. "No," she said.
"Then please pay attention."
Class passed quickly enough. At the end, Nasty hung back, letting her classmates leave before her. She held her marked essay in hand, not sure if she should put it in with her notes. Her teach walked up beside her, startling Nasty.
"Is there a problem with your mark, Miss Giuliano?" the teacher asked.
"No, Ms Nordberg," Nasty replied.
"Then why the odd looks?"
"Nothing at all?" Ms Nordberg asked.
"Really. I'm just surprised I did so well, that's all. I wasn't expecting a B."
"You had some very good points in your essay, Miss Giuliano. You just need to work on your presentation."
"Don't forget about parent-teacher night tonight. I'd like to meet your folks."
"Oh sh--" Nasty cut off the obscenity. "I'll remind Mom."
"How goes the clean up?"
"We're creating the last report for the locals. The techs have gone through the truck. There are some DNA traces, including some unknown. We're beginning a trace for who it belongs to. The driver died of old age. I've ordered a search through the hospitals in the area for anyone who may be suffering similar symptoms."
"What caused the aging?"
"One of the barrels of mutagen broke, probably after the accident. We've contained the spill as best as possible."
"Yes, sir. We're looking to see if there were any witnesses. The search could take a few days."
"Good, good. Who is assisting in the search?"
"Subjects 4 and 7."
"They know how to be subtle?"
"More than Subjects 9 and 12."
"Keep me informed on any progress."
"Of course, sir."
Name: Christopher John Smith
Birthdate: May 27, 1971
Birthplace: Wheeling, West Virgina
Mother: Eleanor Smith, nee Reinhold
Father: Samuel Smith
The surface of Subject 2's skin has changed properties so as to withstand trauma, including melee weapons and bullets. Subject 2 has been understandably reluctant to undergo tests to determine limits; however, field results have shown Subject 2 able to resist a .45 round fired from five yards.
Subject 2 has been steadily losing his sense of touch. Subject 2 has noticed, but is not concerned. Further tests will be hampered by Subject 2's ability. Needles can no longer penetrate his skin.
[End Issue 2]
Next Issue: Can Nasty keep her newfound powers hidden now that the press is involved?