Once more, I stepped over Rey, in the other direction this time, and settled back onto the sleeping mat. The sounds of the building surrounded me, the gentle creaks that all houses make, the muffled sound of the bar two floors below. I fidgeted restlessly, sleep not coming. The green light of the electric alarm clock by Devin’s bed shone through my eyelids. I had never been able to sleep with bright lights, or really any light at all. I frequently had woken with an arm thrown over my eyes to shield them from the dim light shining through the blinds on my window. As I often did when I couldn’t sleep, I passed the time thinking on what had happened that day. It hardly seemed real. Even when Rey had shown us the Super Juice, I’d thought it would give us some fun powers to mess with, not get a gang of drug dealers on our asses. Now if we wanted any peace, we’d have to take them down ourselves.
I sat up, thoughts whirring through my head. The beginnings of an idea had suddenly started forming in my mind. Rey and Devin both had impressive powers, and I could think of quite a few uses for them, but as far as I could tell, I had nothing. I would have to make do with what I knew I did have: my mind.
And a gun.
* * *
“Finally! It took me ages to find you.”
I looked around. I was back on the field of black grass. The tower of dark crystal was gone, but when I looked down at my hands I found that I was made of the same black crystals. Wading through the grass towards me was a pale, diminutive girl who couldn’t have been much older than ten or twelve.
“What?” I asked. My voice sounded strange, full of harsh, buzzing harmonics.
“Come with me!” She said urgently, grabbing my hand and pulling me along behind her.
“Who are you?” The black grass tickled at my shins as we walked.
“Where are we?” She shrugged.
“Who knows?” A dull roar started in the distance, approaching rapidly.
“Hey, don’t wake up!” She spun around and grabbed me by the shoulders. Her fingers slipped against the hard crystal surface. The roaring reached a crescendo “I need you! Don’t-“
“-wake up, man. Devin wants to yell at you.”
I could feel the wood of Devin’s desk under my cheek where I had fallen asleep.
“What the hell did you do to my computer?”
“Nothing permanent,” I said, blinking myself fully awake.
“Maaan…” Devin trailed off as I started to untangle the mess of wires before me. Devin’s desktop had been popped open and disemboweled to find the right parts, and the power supply now ran through a number of conversions and into the heavily modified stun-gun. I was originally only planned to charge it, but I had gotten a bit… Carried away. I’d had to crack the casing open in order to reach the inputs for the power supply, and the two halves were still separated on the desk. The weapon was based around a super-miniaturized deuterium fluoride laser (as it was conveniently labeled,) which was about the size and shape of a large cigar. Crammed into the rear and grip of the weapon was a similarly miniaturized power source which held an absolutely absurd amount of energy- I was drawing two outlet’s full power with my jury-rigged charging system. Looking at it, I could tell that it was mostly custom-made parts that were designed to be easily integrated into other systems by people who didn’t understand their inner workings. While this was convenient for me, it turned out to be a serious problem for the product line, because it looked like it hadn’t been hard to disconnect the circuitry designed to put a hard limit on the power output. This circuitry was not tinker-designed; evidently the tinker had designed the rest of it had not recognized the need for non-lethality. In addition to the disconnected array of resistors, there was a coolant system wrapped around the power source and the laser diode which was obviously a different style from the rest, added when the rest of the modifications had been made. It was full of a strange blue-green liquid which I very much did not want to touch.
There was also, I noticed, an RFID tag reader in the grip- a safety feature which had been disconnected for black-market sale. I had reconnected it, routing the power supply through it, and calibrated it to a tag I’d pulled out of Rey’s phone (which was also lying open on the desk; I’d taken it from where he had put it on the shelf of the bookcase by his head,) and put into a thin fingerless glove I’d found lying around. If it worked, it would mean that only I could fire it- an excellent idea, I thought, after what had happened last night.
I reassembled Devin’s computer and screwed the halves of the herokiller back together. If my estimation was correct, the charging cycle should have finished hours ago.
“I guess we know what you got,” commented Rey.
“What?” I asked, confused.
“Seriously, since when do ya know about any of this crap?” Said Devin, gesturing to the reassembled computer and gun.
“Electronics class. We all took it last year, remember?”
“Pretty sure electronics didn’t cover tinker-made stuff.” commented Devin.
“What, you think I’m a tinker?”
“I’d put ten bucks on it.”
“No bet,” Rey remarked.
“Oh, that reminds me,” I stood up and tossed Rey a pair of binoculars.
“What’s this?” He asked, startled, catching them awkwardly.
“Binoculars,” I said, explaining the obvious.
“I can see that,” he said crossly.
“Yeah. Those are my binoculars,” added Devin.
“Get longer range, focus the light,” I lifted my hands like I was holding the binoculars to my face. “Flash!”
His eyes widened. “Oh! That’s… Not a bad idea, actually.”
We walked into the kitchen. Devin started making eggs as Rey and I sat down at the table.
“Hey, where are your mom and your sister at?” I asked Devin.
“Mom took her to some softball practice,” he said over his shoulder. The eggs were starting to smell delicious.
“So,” started Rey. “I’ve been thinking about a name. How about ‘Basilisk?'”
Devin snorted out a short laugh.
“I think it works,” I said. “Not quite turning people to stone, but close enough.” I picked up a newspaper that was lying on the table. A damp ring had formed on it where it looked like a glass of orange juice had been placed earlier in the morning: directly over a blurry shot of Devin’s car speeding along Grand-Army-of-the-Republic highway. “Man, your sister totally covered our asses. We gotta thank her later.”
“Huh?” Devin looked over and I showed him the newspaper.
“She literally covered it up- to stop your mom from finding out.”
“Wow. She actually did.”
“Who’d have thought she’d have it in her to keep a secret?” Rey commented. ” I wouldn’t have put it past the brat to out us immediately.”
“Nah, I think she just likes knowing something mom doesn’t,” countered Devin dismissively.
“We still don’t know what we’re looking for.”
I tapped the table, remembering the night before. “Actually, I do. Dyson St. and Rook’s Road.”
“What orifice did you pull that out of?” Asked Devin.
“The mouth of a local hero. I, uh, couldn’t sleep last night.”
“No shit,” Devin joined us at the table. “You know, I hear some tinkers don’t need much sleep,” he said, looking at me slyly.
“Well, I guess we know where we’re going today,” said Rey, speaking what we were all thinking.