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   Chapter 1

Damsel[ed] Rescue Required: Damsel[ed]: Rescue Required: Damsel[ed]: Rescue Required: Damsel[ed]: Rescue Required: Damsel[ed]: Rescue Required: Damsel[ed]: Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 8427

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04

Rain drums on the roof of the super museum. Soft footsteps echo from the room over and the night watchman“s flashlight hits the ground with a “thump.“

She rolls her eyes and nudges her partner. He grunts, leaning against a pillar with a half-eaten turkey sandwich hanging out of his mouth. "Teens again," she says, pointing to Tauras“ and Nebula“s Room of Love.

"I hate teens." Joe Grayson finishes his sandwich in one gulp, flicking crumbs off his starched collar onto the polished floor. A boom of thunder sends him ducking.

The Starlight City Commemorative Superhero Museum is eight floors high, the top one all windows, like a big, glass cage. From here, the two watchmen have a clear view of where the capital building burned. It“s a gap in the skyline, like a missing tooth in a silver smile. Joe Grayson frowns out at the view. "But it“s only teens, right?"

The power is out. Could be the storm, could be worse. A super. Melissa Sanchez picks up the flashlight, breaking in a cold sweat. The silence is heavy.

"Maybe not."

Grayson runs his hand over his bald head as if to smooth back hair. His cheeks puff up and he lets out a noisy breath. "Hey!" he shouts, pushing past his partner. "Hey, kid! Get out of here!"

There comes a wheezy laugh, as booming and deep as the thunder outside. Sanchez is right behind her partner, the flashlight shoved hastily in a holster, her handgun out and pointed at the door.

This is the way it is in Starlight. Civilians hear a loud noise, they assume a supervillian is standing over them with a raised fist and a syringe. You become a thief, and you“re equal parts likely to be pummeled to criminal soup by a superhero or shot some dozen and a half times by a terrified civilian.

The watchmen rush into the room, army of two. Rain pelts the windows. Light dapples the floor, the plastic memorial candles flickering on the fountain.

The figure whirls around, silhouetted in a long, slinky shadow. Nebula and Tauras look down at the scene, captured forever in a lover“s embrace. It“s a beautiful piece, based off a photo. Nebula, her helmet torn off, crying happy tears, her supersuit streaked with grit and dust. Taurus, unable to stand, collapsed against her, his civilian suit tattered and bloodied.

The statue is so lifelike, from the folds of Tauras“s torn clothing to the tangles in Nebula“s hair to even the unsteady one-leg pin-up girl pose the playful Taurus struck when he saw the camera, that even in bronze, Sanchez can imagine them perfectly. Breathing, in the flesh, though Sanchez only caught in eyeful of them back in “84 during the room dedication.

Now, in an ironic turn of events, their museum is being robbed.

The figure is small and lithe, dressed all in black with a bag slung over their shoulder. The shadow of their hood hides even the color of their eyes. All the guards can make out if the burglar“s smile. "Freeze or I“ll shoot!" Sanchez shouts.

The figure dips a graceful bow and whirls out the open window, falling some eight stories into the night. By the time Sanchez empties the barrel of her .22, the burglar is gone.

And so is Nebula“s supersuit.



"Gotcha!" the man shouts, cupping his hand over my face. My eyes fly open and my mouth parts in a silent scream before I realize it“s a sham and wriggle free. I roll over and hit the carpet.

"Ow, ow, ow, OW!"

Storm smirks down me.

Jaylin and Keplar are still asleep. Fed with all the meat I could find in the fridge, washed with my own shampoo, and given three bowls of mineral water, Kep was out, living the good life. I fell asleep on the couch. Jaylin did the same, her forehead pressed against my thumping heart, her fingers skimming my feathers. Turns out wings make good blankets in a pinch.


Storm picks me up by the collar of my tee shirt. Kepler blinks an eye open and growls at him, then goes back to sleep. Jaylin is still. Doesn“t so much as twitch. Storm“s eyes flare behind his broken glasses. Gray like Gats.“ "You“re dead, kiddo. I just broke into your house, knocked you out, and brought you to your dad."

I rub my eyes, my shirt cutting under my arms from Storm“s grip. "I know, I kno

w. I“ll do better next time." I yawn. "I“m just tired, da“."

He harumphs. A small smile plays out on his features. "“Da,“ huh? Is that who I am now?"

"Yup. You“re my dad. The stork just got mixed up is all."

Storm sets me down on the floor. His smile is small and sad. "I don“t think Fallout agrees and I don“t think Gatsby will ever call me that."

"He really is your son?" I hesitate. "Your biological one, I mean."

Storm nods, adjusting the rims of his cracked glasses. Some people have huge family resemblance. Me and my “parents,“ for instance. But Gats is different. If you look hard enough at June“s small, wiry build, at Storm“s hard gray eyes and the distinct structure of his face, you can make it out. You can connect the dots.

Since this is the third book written after “Life of a Teenage Eugenics Experiment“ and “Life of a Teenage Fugitive Kidnapped by Literally Every Member of His Family,“ I“ll recap.

My mother is dead. She seized the Starlight City capital before Gats plunged a sword through her chest and ended it. Luce is sentient and functions independently from me, but I can knock him out with obsidian. The downside? I knock out my powers, too. Poison kidnapped me, Fallout kidnapped me for about thirty minutes, then Owl kidnapped me. I only wish we could“ve had a family dinner or something. Aside from being a hero, Gats is also a traitor. He betrayed Heaven and played Owl“s minion, threatening to stab me a good three or four times.

He“s also, you know, Juniper and Storm“s son. And not in the way I am, either. He carries their genes.

I“m also dating Jaylin. So there“s that.

"Well, then. You and Ju-Mom going to go out and talk to him about it?"

Another nod. "Dinner at The Ritz. We“re leaving you home tonight. Lock every door and window and make sure to keep Heaven nearby. Call us at the first sign of trouble." Storm takes off his glasses and rubs the cracks with his forefinger. He offers Kepler a meager pat on the head. She kicks her legs out and sighs, tail thumping. "You stole yourself a designer pet. These things are worth a fortune. Wolves, tigers, bears, you name it. Models of new taming methods through genetic modification. Gentle as lambs."

I swallow the growing knot in my throat. "Are there any designer kids, too?"

Storm adjusts his jacket and checks his watch. "You," he says, "and Feli-Gatsby, and your brother."

"Anymore I should know of?"

Storm turns toward the door, fluffing the bean bag chair and flipping the cushions. "Stay safe." By the time I“ve wobbled to my feet and cleared my throat to remind him that that isn“t an answer, the door is open and his glasses have been pitched into the wastebasket.

He turns, half-outside, and grunts, eyes flicking from me to Jay. "If you“re going to have sex, use protection and don“t do it on my sofa." The door clicks locked. Just like that, Storm has waltzed in and out of my life. Just like that, I“m shriveled against the couch with a face so hot I could fry pancakes on it.

Me. Jaylin. Sex. Hah. I just decided I don“t hate her a day ago.

"That“s the fastest “talk“ I“ve ever heard in my life." Jaylin rolls off the couch and hits the floor beside me, her head in her hands.

"You“ve been awake this whole time, haven“t you?"

She pulls Kepler off the couch by the fluffy scruff of her neck. Kepler doesn“t seem to notice, limp as a ragdoll in her arms. "Who“s a good wolf? Who“s a good wolf!" Kepler rolls her golden eyes and sighs, her snout pressed up against Jay“s knee as she falls back to sleep.

Heaven is patrolling. Gats is asleep in the back of the family Prius, I think. That or taking a walk to clear his head. The coast is clear. I head to the kitchen, each step a stumble. My wings drag on the floor like coattails.

"What are you doing?"

"Making us some coffee." I slam the grounds on the granite and fumble with the detachable cap on the percolator. The stove clock reads “8:46.“ P.M. The attack happened noon yesterday. Jaylin and I have been asleep for a little over a day and everything feels like it“s happening inside a fog. "We“ve got investigating to do and I“ve got the keys to Gats“ BMW."


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