Chapter 111

Michael Clark was drinking again. He was alone in his dorm room, having paid the extra money to live without a roommate. He knew it was a bad habit for someone like him to have, and he sincerely had been trying to cut back, but days like this invariably seemed to find him at the bottom of a bottle. It was strange: he’d never had a drink before college, yet ever since some seniors had procured hooch for welcome weekend he’d been hitting the sauce with regularity. Had Michael known a bit more about alcoholism, he would have known he was genetically predisposed to it by way of his mother, but that was one of the many subjects Michael had never bothered studying.

He poured another glass of cheap scotch. Michael knew whose fault it was he was here tonight; it was the same as always. Vince Reynolds. Michael could feel the alcohol curdle in his mouth at just the thought of that name. That little son-of-a-bitch had shown him up on the first day, and even though Michael had emerged triumphant, it seemed like Vince was always nipping at his heels. Vince was ranked eighth even though he’d lost in the first round. Vince was dating the hottest girl in the freshman class. Vince lived in some fancy high-class private dorm with only four other students. Even today, Michael had been showing off his tremendous skill at ranged fighting. Everyone was impressed, and then what happens? They finish up and find out Vince had nearly wiped out an entire room, without even trying. Oh sure, he’d said it was an accident, but who would buy something like that?

No, Vince had wanted to show up Michael once again. Just one more time show that even though Michael was clearly better, Vince was the one who would get the attention.

Michael noticed his glass was empty and swiftly remedied that problem. Ever since that first day, when Vince had thought so little of Michael’s abilities that he’d shown up with barely any energy to fight with, Michael had known what kind of prick that silver-haired douche really was.

And sooner or later everyone else would, too. Michael fully intended to see to that.

*          *          *

Julia Shaw was painting her toenails a candy-apple red, watching television. She wasn’t sure why she was bothering: boys never paid enough attention to feet and she didn’t have any capable female competition to notice the cute little details. She shrugged and kept on with it anyway. Even if no one else noticed, she still knew, and it made her feel pretty.

She glanced absent-mindedly at the clock. Ten until nine. If Roy was going to come over he wouldn’t do so until ten thirty at the earliest. Hershel liked to study in the evenings, and Roy wasn’t going to pick up the academic slack, so they usually didn’t switch over until ten. Julia felt a slight tingle of frustration that she knew so much about the schedule of a boy she wasn’t even dating. Not she wanted to date a hound like Roy anyway... okay, maybe a little.

He was just so much fun; it felt like every minute spent with him was energized and entertaining. Not to mention to things he could do in bed... Julia shivered involuntarily. She didn’t think she could ever go back to boys that weren’t Supers after so many months intermittently rolling through the sheets with Roy.

Julia smiled as she switched to the next foot. Hershel had told her recently that their situation was the longest Roy had consistently maintained a booty call. It wasn’t the nicest compliment, she could freely admit that, but it was something. Julia felt she was far and wide the most capable virgin out there. She shared memories, sensations, and experiences with her clones, but she’d never known a man with her own body. That she was saving until marriage, just as the lord intended. Besides, when she could feel everything the clones felt anyway, what was the point in soiling her purity?

Julia finished the other foot and blew on it. They should be done by the time Roy might roll through. Even if they weren’t, though, no harm done. It wasn’t like it would actually be her own feet hiked over his muscular shoulders anyway. That was clone work.

*          *          *

Will yawned loudly and set down the book he’d been flipping through. He slid his glasses down to the edge of his nose and massaged the bridge. Will had hit a wall earlier in the night and was trying to slowly bore through it.

Sitting in front of him was what might appear to the layman as a falconer’s glove with wires running across and through it. In fairness to the layman, that’s exactly what it was. Will stared at his glove-shaped obstacle and then turned his eyes away. Today’s class had brought to his attention that while he’d created several devices for Jill to use, he was still lacking anything dependable in his own ranged arsenal. Sure, he could use one of the guns or throwing weapons they provided him, but that would be as good as stamping his own pass home.

Will was under no illusions. He was here because of his gift with technology. If he couldn’t deliver in that department every time then there was no point for him to be enrolled at Lander. Not in the HCP, at least. So if he wanted to stay, he needed to show up to the next training session with a weapon all his own.

Will pushed his glasses back into their normal position and picked up the book once more. He wasn’t going to sleep until he’d gotten at least three shots out of this thing. No compromises. No excuses. If Will failed out then Jill would be here all alone, and he’d promised a very long time ago to make sure that never happened to her.

Not again, anyway.

Will’s resolve strengthened, and he began tweaking one of the circuitry systems. It sparked and sizzled in less than four seconds.

It was going to be a long night.