Sirium 2.2

II. Geothermal Ostrich Farm

2. Stratus

Behind the bar there was a box of discarded jackets that had never been claimed as people filed out of the club, drunk and disconcerned if they left with less than they had come with–or sometimes with more, if the right connection had been made. I grabbed something fleece that fit well enough and zipped it up halfway before I drove deeper into the club. Through another doorway I came to a lounge area filled with plush black furniture. I plopped myself onto a sofa that cradled me as I snuggled into the thick cushions. I shut my eyes and tried to catch some shuteye before the usual crowd showed up.

“Hey, Elliot,” someone said and I sat up groggily. A few hours had passed, so maybe it was early morning now. I looked through the still half-shadowy room to see a slender blonde with his back toward me.

“Hey Maggie,” I said, and from the tilt of his head I could tell he was rolling his eyes at me. “Studying still?”

“Always,” Mag said. “Physics is fun, but no one said it’s easy, did they?” He laughed at his own joke.

“Got to magnetism yet?”

He shrugged. “Will it matter when I do?” He turned just enough so I saw his clear, sea-green eyes. “Isn’t it in my blood already?” I laughed, and so did he: a joke no one outside these walls would ever understand.

“What are you studying, Elliot?”

“Stuff,” I said and stretched out along the couch again. “Did Ylissa fill you in?”

“Haven’t seen her yet. Something happen between you two?”

“No,” I said, but then I leaned forward quickly. “Wait, did she say something to you? Should something have happened last night?”

Mag shrugged again, but stayed staring at his textbook. “Yesterday was that rat–”

“Raccoon.”

“–race, wasn’t it? I know things between you two always seem to get a little–shall we say, tense?–around this time, don’t they?” He yawned. “But, no, she didn’t say anything to me, at least nothing unexpected. What happened?”

“You won’t believe it,” I said.

“Oh, but won’t I? I know the stories you tell, Elliot: dry as dirt or high as clouds, eh?”

“True,” I said, rubbing my chin, “but this one, trust me, it’s out there: Last night I saw a super kill a guy.”

Mag looked over his shoulder at me and I couldn’t tell if he genuinely believed me or just thought I was being absurd. “A super? Who?”

“I didn’t recognize her,” I said and gave him a quick rundown like I’d given Ylissa earlier. “Do you think I could’ve just imagined it, or what?”

Mag looked back at his textbook and flipped back and forward a few pages.

“I guess it could’ve happened,” he finally said, “but I think Ylissa was right when she said it’s unusual for women to have such developed powers. I mean, Elliot, do any of the super women we know have that kind of skill?”

I sat back and tried to think of them all. Most of the supers here were men, and the women all had powers different than ours: Whereas we could affect the physical world, their powers related to the mind and were mostly internal. Astral projection, ESP, the ability to calculate long algorithms in the blink of an eye–those were the sorts of powers women had here. The ability to kill someone? That was unusual.

I scratched my head and Mag went back to his studying. He was one of the smartest guys I knew. If he wouldn’t even consider the possibility of a super who could do this, then maybe I had imagined it after all. But I watched a guy die, didn’t I?

NEXT PART: Cumulus

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