Nova followed Iris out of the gallery through a service doorway on the side of the building, far from the bustle of the tourist-infested main entryway.

“My place isn’t far. Here, this way,” Iris said, taking Nova’s hand in hers and intertwining their fingers together in a quite intimate fashion.

Nova shook her head and extricated her hand out of Iris’s grasp. Then offered her right hand instead. The fingers of her left danced. ‘I can’t speak without this hand, so I’d be grateful if you could use the other.’

Iris did so as she gazed at the movements of Nova’s left hand. “Sure. What’s up with that? Are you mute? Is that why you’re speaking through a machine?”Continue reading

Nova woke up the next morning in a rather sore body. She stretched out her limbs while still in bed, trying to work off some of the pain.

It wasn’t just her shoulder. That had mostly healed, in fact. But the sequelae of the previous night’s stunts were starting to be felt. Slamming a truck into another vehicle at high speed was little different from being involved in an actual car crash. Nova had had time to brace for impact, of course, and when her body had been warmed up and full of adrenaline, she hadn’t suffered many adverse effects. But now, with a night’s rest cooling down her muscles, she realized once again that she wasn’t quite as indestructible as Sirius was.

It wasn’t debilitating, though. She’d likely be fine by tomorrow.

Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Nova slowly crawled her way out of bed and carelessly dug into her suitcase for clean clothes. She found the same outfit she’d worn on the plane trip to Verizen, with the suspender skirt and black thigh-highs. It had already been cleaned and pressed by the suitcase’s internal mechanisms upon being stored back into it, so Nova put it on without further ado, though she left her hair unbound, this time.Continue reading

Rana sat on the living room couch, leaning her body against Fareed with her cheek resting against his shoulder. Her eyes were fixed on the TV before her, but her mind was focused on something else entirely.

Namely, the girl her son had invited into their home yesterday.

And the implication of that girl’s presence here.

Of course, Rana’s concerns weren’t as frivolous as Camilla’s. Rana’s daughter was convinced that Sirius and Nova were lovers. Camilla felt threatened, as if their guest would steal Sirius’s attention away from her. Which is why she was currently sulking in her room after being excluded from tonight’s outing. Rana too was curious about the exact nature of the relationship between the two teenagers, but her actual worries were somewhat more serious than that.Continue reading

Sirius lay prone behind a wall. Fragments of plaster and stone dust rained down all around him as the gunmen at the other end of the hallway sprayed assault rifle fire toward his position.

Alarmingly many bullets made it through the wall, but it was thick enough that even the few that touched Sirius’s body didn’t have much momentum anymore and bounced harmlessly off his suit. Still, their enthusiasm in expending all their ammunition did force him to keep his head down, at least for the moment. He wouldn’t die from a direct hit or three, but a few of his ribs might break. Healing from that wouldn’t be an issue but would take a little time. Considering the amount of work he still had to complete after this hotel, however, he couldn’t afford that.

Ordinarily, he would’ve pushed himself a bit and dealt with his trouble on his own, but tonight, he wasn’t alone. The situation changed.

Suddenly, out of the six sources of gunfire aiming for him, one fell silent. The others also faltered, and in the momentary hush, Sirius heard the dull thump of a body toppling to the floor.Continue reading

“We’re there,” Wieslaw said solemnly from the driver’s seat.

Sirius, riding shotgun – a bit more literally than usual, considering the weaponry he carried – looked through the windshield and nodded, solemnly.

Behind them, in the back of the van, Nova… Nova solemnly played Tetris on the van’s wall of computer screens. There were 12 screens in total, 12 simultaneous games. Enough to toss out Wieslaw and Sirius’s names from the high score table and monopolize all its top spots.

Sirius looked back from his seat. “Nova, could you take this seriously, please? We’re about to start.”Continue reading

Nova lay atop her bed in Sirius’s house, waiting for the hour to come.

The briefing and subsequent debate on how they would proceed to best dismantle this organ trafficking ring had taken most of the afternoon. Since her two companions had vastly more experience when it came to such matters, Nova mostly let them make the decisions and only interjected when absolutely necessary.

Still, a growing sense of trepidation had sprouted inside her as she realized more and more starkly that she’d somewhat underestimated the balance between the two sides.

Three barely superpowered dumbasses against truckloads of armed gangsters. With victims – in other words, potential hostages – Sirius and Wieslaw insisted on saving.Continue reading

“Oh, a visitor? Invited by Mr. Antema, I suppose?” the teacher asked pleasantly. “Are you a prospective student visiting the campus?”

‘No. I’m an actress,’ Nova said, before tilting her head toward Sirius next to her. ‘This loser over here hired me to pretend to be his girlfriend for the day so that he could show off. Revolting, isn’t it?’

The stunned silence that met this shameful revelation of Sirius’s dastardly motives was glorious. Nova was very proud. Sirius, on the other hand, was quietly burying his face into his palms while muttering imprecations under his breath. The gazes of the other students aimed in their direction became heavy.

Or maybe they’re just wondering what kind of actress can neither emote nor speak with her own voice.Continue reading

Sirius always drew gazes when he traveled through the few subway stations separating his house from university. He’d always striven to ignore them – and to gently rebuff the girls who occasionally mustered up enough courage to come hit on him – but today was on a whole other level.

More specifically, most of the stares weren’t aimed at him, but at the young woman sitting next to him. Nova had warned him this would happen and suggested they call a cab, but Sirius felt this was overkill. There were only a few minutes of travel time until they reached their destination. Surely, nothing troubling would happen, especially with Sirius here to accompany her.

Indeed, no one had accosted Nova, yet, but Sirius could see that the eyes of every single other passenger in the wagon were inexorably drawn toward her.

There weren’t enough people in the train to consider it crowded, but when they boarded, all the seats were already occupied. Nova, making the most of her gifts, had managed to acquire a seat simply by staring for a few moments into the eyes of a young teenager presumably heading for school. She hadn’t said or done anything, but her unfortunate victim had blushed uncontrollably and readily offered her his spot. He’d looked proud and gratified when Nova nodded to him and sat down in his place, like she’d been the one to do him a favor, while Sirius could only helplessly shake his head. Now, Nova was sitting with her legs stretched out in front of her and her hands folded over her belly, looking so relaxed that she might soon fall asleep.Continue reading

Dinner with the Antema family was a peaceful affair. Even after the little commotion of Nova’s arrival, no one held it against her. Even Camilla, though she sulked a bit and clearly wasn’t too fond of Nova, didn’t snipe at her constantly. She was just a bit more taciturn than her parents and her brother.

Rana had produced some home-made burgers, which had the advantage of only requiring one hand to eat. This let Nova speak more comfortably and actively participate in the conversation. They were also delicious enough to please even Nova’s sensitive taste buds.

Still, eating burgers was not a trivial science. Nova had to juggle dozens of variables at the same time: the force of gravity on the stuffing of her burger depending on the angle at which she tilted it, the friction between the salad and the steak, the lubricating effect of the melted cheese, the viscosity and surface tension of the ketchup, the pressure her fingers applied to the buns, the collisions between ingredients when taking a bite rearranged their relative positions… Fortunately, after focusing 95% of her total brain power on the task, she did manage to eat the burger with elegance and dignity, a feat which once again proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had far surpassed human limitations and ascended to a higher plane of existence.

“So you’ll accompany Sirius to university tomorrow?” Rana asked with a warm smile as they ate. “You’ll follow him to his classes?”Continue reading

After disembarking from her private jet, Nova decisively vetoed the idea of using public transport and called a cab. Nova and Sirius took the passenger seats facing the front of the car, while Wieslaw sat across from them.

As soon as they were seated, Nova stretched out her legs and rested them across Sirius’s lap, to his distinct lack of amusement. Still, it didn’t seem very appropriate to start an argument at this time and place, so he bore with it stoically and allowed her to do as she pleased. It wasn’t like she was heavy, anyway.

Sirius was starting to doubt the wisdom of lending Nova a room in his house. She’d wanted to rent a hotel suite, at first, but Sirius had offered her the use of his home, more by reflexive politeness than any real desire to live under the same roof. Her immediate agreement, as if she didn’t want to leave him enough time to retract the offer, had already been a bad omen, but when he remembered her joke on the plane about asking his parents to approve of a marriage…

She wouldn’t say anything weird, right?Continue reading