Interface By EMW

Part 5

Chapter 8


The next day I was keen to get into school for the first time in as long as I could remember. Dad was quite bemused by my eagerness to get there. At points I was practically dragging him along to the car.


Once we had arrived, and the car had mostly stopped moving, I was off and up to our house room, sparing barely a moment to wave goodbye to Dad. Predictably I arrived long before anyone else and then had to sit waiting impatiently for Vicky to arrive. After what felt like an age of sitting fussing, Vicky walked in the door, giving me a big smile and scampering over to join me.


We talked about our evenings. I was bursting to tell her of my improvised tools but couldn't, at least not yet, which was maddening. Instead I told her about what TV programs I had watched and how I had found the homework. The room filled up around us and I barely noticed until my hearing picked out my name.


“He calls himself Lexi! What kind of name is that anyway? Now he's teamed up with that freak show. The two of them make me sick!” I recognised Tara's dulcet tones.


“Come on Tar, why are you always so down on those two,” said one of her friends.


“What! You one of them now Debbie?” spat Tara.


“What is this them and us. bullshit Tara? You didn't used to be such a bully and a bigot! Those two have done nothing to you, and you've been tormenting them for ages. I'm just sick of it. I mean, how'd you like to wake up with tentacles for arms and legs one day or change sex?”


“You don't know anything, Debbie! You shut your mouth!”


“Or what? You going to beat me up too?”


They went silent, both parties seemingly angry with each other, but a sort of angry brooding silence filled with tension that would end in an emotional outburst of one sort or another. It probably was bad news for me and Vicky. We were, after all, Tara's favourite punching bags. In my distraction I had stopped talking in the middle of a sentence and sat there staring into space as I listened in.


“Hello ... Earth to Lexi.” Vicky waved a hand in front of my face and I snapped back to awareness. “You sort of spaced out there for a moment.”


“Oh, I heard my name. Tara and her friends were talking about us.”


“Really? I didn't hear anything.”


“Her and Debbie had an argument about us.”


“I can see they are staring daggers at each other. You must have really good hearing.”


“Pretty good. It came with my sharp new eyes, altered sense of taste, and my teeth.”


“You got the whole package then of sensory upgrades if you will.”


“I guess, I sometimes forget it. I'm staring at something and don't realise it's just a dot to everyone else. I haven't really worked out how to consciously use any of that. It just sort of happens.”


“Well sneaky lady, you hear any good gossip, you let me know.”


I laughed and turned to see Tara glaring at me. In a fit of pique, I stuck my tongue out at her, which probably wasn't the best thing to do to diffuse the situation. Still it made me feel better and made Vicky giggle. Shortly after that the school day kicked off in earnest, and I barely had any time to talk with Vicky till morning break. We sat together in every lesson and shared what moments we could. Some of the lessons where I had to work with a partner were interesting. Normally in language lessons, or science lessons, or anything where there was group work, I got stuck working on my own, with the teacher, or with someone who didn't want to have anything to do with me. These experiences were not really all I could hope for. Working with Vicky instead, was great. She was curious, and we worked together finding answers or interacting to get the task finished. It made these exercises that I had dreaded, a joy and made me sad that I hadn't known Vicky before this. Still, I wasn't sure that she would have liked the old me.


I was happy when lunch time came and I could have a proper talk with my friend. We were talking almost continuously as we queued and got our lunch, and continued when we sat down to eat it. In a break in conversation where we were actually eating some of our rapidly cooling food, I glanced over and noticed something odd. Colin, or Scan, was sitting on his own, away from the little gang. Tara and co. were looking over at him angrily. Eventually, they finished their lunch and began leaving, walking past Colin on their way out.


My hyper sensitive hearing picked up a series of insults as the gang past him. “Loser!” spat Tara. Lump cuffed him across the head and Amy Zap gave him a shock. He barely reacted to any of it, just staring down at his tray.


I suddenly found myself on my feet, picking up my tray.


“Hey what's up? You done already?” asked Vicky.


“No, come with me,” I said, not even sure what I was doing.


Vicky looked at me quizzically then shrugged, grabbed her tray and followed me. I walked over to the table where Colin was sitting, and sat down opposite him. Vicky gave me a look, but sat down next to me.


Colin suddenly looked up at us with a scowl. “What are you two freaks doing here?” he asked, though the words carried none of the weight or bile they normally did. He sounded tired and fed up.


“I saw you had a falling out with Tara and her gang, and wondered if you needed a friend,” I surprised myself but realised I was serious.


Vicky and Colin both stared at me like I had grown a new head, which I suppose, given MORFS unpredictable nature, wasn't impossible. After a while Colin shrugged and went back to eating his food, pretending to ignore me and Vicky. Eventually Vicky and I began chatting again. We talked about many things, but it wasn't till we came back to TV programs that Colin said anything. Vicky was talking about an episode of some old MORFS themed super hero show.


I was mentioning I was not really a fan, but enjoyed the show when I saw it, when Colin suddenly chipped in. “I always liked that show,” he said, “All the others thought it was stupid. Like they thought I was stupid.”


“Well you're not the sharpest tool in the box,” I said honestly, causing him to stare at me sharply. Since he could read my mind I didn't feel like there was any point trying to deceive him, even for white lies, “But you're smart enough to know that they were just using you.”


He stared at me for a while then gave me a nod as if accepting what I'd said, “At least you're being honest with me. They all think I won't be able to tell they're lying. Like their smarts make them immune to my powers.”


He sighed, “The only reason I was with the supers was I just wanted to fit in and make some friends. Most people were terrified of me finding out all their secrets, not like I asked to have this power, not like I want to know all the surface thoughts of everyone nearby. But they never treated me as one of them. I tried to walk the walk and be tough, but that didn't get me anywhere. I tried to ignore their smug attitude and get by, but they never treated me as an equal, just treated me as some sort of tool.”


He picked up his tray and made to leave. Just before he did he turned back and gave the two of us a look. “Listen, for what it's worth, I'm sorry for being part of that lot, for what they did.”


He turned and headed off.


“What was that about?” asked Vicky.


“I don't know. I saw them treating him badly, and thought he could use someone to talk to,” I replied with a shrug.


“You're a better girl than me, Lexi. If I saw any of them lying in a ditch bleeding, crying out for help, I'd probably kick dirt on them and walk on by.”


It sounded like my new friend was an unforgiving type and had a streak of ruthlessness in her. All good super villain qualities. She definitely had potential.


I smiled at her and tucked in to my now cold lunch. We finished our lunch and got some work done in the library. I wanted to get ahead so I could work on my armour suit tonight. I was bursting to tell my friend about it but wanted to be ready before I did.


The rest of our day was fairly mundane, and to top it all, Vicky couldn't come back that night as she was helping her mum with something. She promised to come over the next day though, which cheered me up.


Dad gave her a lift, which allowed her to stop in for a cup of tea, which was nice, but then she had to dash off again. Mum had invited her to dinner the next night and she promised to ask her parents if it was OK.


After she was gone I helped with dinner, and once we had finished eating I rushed off to try working on my project. While we were eating, I had gotten an idea for how to use my powers to allow me to do without the welder that I could only use with supervision. Dad had been talking about a class he had been giving on induction, and it occurred to me I could do a similar thing with my powers. I could spin a magnetic field cutting a conductor with lines of force to induct a current in it. If I could do it enough I might be able to create a strong enough current to do some welding.


Once the dishes were clean I scampered off to try. I put on all my protective gear knowing that I had to be careful. I made a simple loop of thick copper, made the end smooth and made it able to clamp together, my idea being to mimic a spot welder.


I took two bits of sheet steel and clamped it in my metal construction. I adjusted my safety gloves and flipped down my welding goggles, then created a powerful magnetic field and spun it as fast as I could. It looked like a rainbow coloured blur to my magnetic senses. There was a blaze of sparks and a sizzle of metal as the current heated the metal till it melted.


I stopped and took a look. Unfortunately, it had worked too well and had melted completely through the metal, rather than fusing it. Still, it seemed my idea had merit, so I looked on it as a partial success. I left things to cool, then tried a different spot, this time not spinning the field quite as fast.


After a long series of experiments I had perfected the technique. I used it in earnest to attach some more of my machine’s components but the extended period of experimentation had worn me out and used up most of the evening. So I didn't get much done. My machine was coming together though. Maybe another evening’s solid work and it would be complete enough to try.


I went to bed tired but pleased with my progress.


Come morning I was once again keen to get into school. The novelty of this hadn't yet worn off for my parents, so I got some good natured teasing from my mother. This time Vicky was there waiting for me when I got into school. She told me she could come over for dinner, so I sent my mum a text message to let her know, then got right into chatting with Vicky.


She was interested to know what I had done the previous evening, and I had to make something up, since I wasn't ready to let her know about my project. She seemed to sense that I was being a little evasive but didn't push me, which was nice of her. Our arch nemesis Tara was there, but didn't do anything more than glare at us. Once again we had little time to chat once school kicked off in earnest.


At morning break Vicky and I went for a walk around the school field it was a nice day and lots of people were out running about and playing. We walked about enjoying the sunshine. We didn't see Tara and her gang approaching from behind.

The first I knew of it was Vicky crying out as Lump bumped into her knocking her sideways. “OUTA MA WAY FREAK!” he hollered.


 He knocked her right into me, and by pure luck I managed to catch her and not take a tumble myself. We stood there clinging to each other for a few moments.


“Oh, don't they make a lovely couple,” snickered Tempest as the rest of the gang walked past us laughing.


I felt my cheeks redden as I realised how tightly I was holding on to Vicky. It wasn't helped by the fact she had instinctively wrapped her flexible limbs around me, gripping on the moment I had caught her. We carefully detached ourselves.


Vicky gave me a small smile blushing a bit herself and thanked me for catching her. I smiled back, saying it was nothing, trying not to think about our unexpected hug or how nice Vicky had smelled to my enhanced senses when she was so close to me.


We carried on with our walk, awkward for a bit but soon chatting away again as if nothing had happened. Break was over all too soon and we were back to lessons. It wasn't that long till lunch though, where we got a more significant break.


For some reason I was famished and I wasted no time joining the queue, pulling Vicky along for the ride. As a result we sat down to eat quite early. Amused, Vicky asked, “What's the rush, Lexi?”


Before I could answer my tummy made a grumbling noise. I guessed my exertions the night before had used up more calories than normal, and I was extra hungry as a result.


“He he.” Vicky giggled and poked me gently in the tummy. Her lack of bones meant she couldn't really poke anything hard even if she tried, “Sounds like you could eat a horse.”


Rather than make a snappy comeback, I tucked in to my meal with more gusto than usual. As a result I was less careful about my teeth showing.


“Damn, you look like you're going to bite clean through the fork! Seriously Lexi, it's like watching a car crusher or something,” Vicky observed.


I slowed down a little and tried to cover my mouth so as not to scare any little children. I looked about, hoping my activities had gone unnoticed. I spotted Colin, who was looking for a place to sit. I waved to him and after hesitating, he walked over and sat opposite us.


“Hey,” he said.


“Hi,” said Vicky a little coldly.


“Hiya,” I said trying to be friendly.


We all ate in silence for a little while, then Colin looked up, “Hey ... Er ...” he started, then looked slightly puzzled, “Oh, I've realised I don't actually know your names.”


“Can't you rip it from our heads,” snorted Vicky.


“No it doesn't work like that. I can only get surface thoughts mostly. Besides, I'm trying to be friendly.”


“Hmmpf,” Vicky crossed her arms in front of her, though it looked kind of strange due to her flexible limbs.


“I'm Lexi,” I said.


After a pause, Vicky grudgingly told him, “Vicky.”


“I'm Colin,” he said, “Anyway I wanted to ask you how you did that trick with the walls.”


“Oh, magnetics,” I said.


“She has a magnetic personality,” giggled Vicky.


“They told me I'm probably a variant of an electrical elemental, except I can't generate external currents. It's all sort of internal flows that generate a magnetic field,” I explained.


“Oh, cool,” Colin said.


We sort of went quiet after that. I was still ravenously hungry so I wolfed down my lunch. Once I was finished and felt relatively sated, I turned to Vicky.


“So what do you want to do tonight when you come over?” I asked her.


“I don't know,” she replied.


“We could play some games.”


“What games have you got?”


“I just got Call of Duty 14. It's pretty good.”


“I've not played much since I changed. And I never really played that sort of game before,” she answered.


“You like FPS's?” asked Colin.

“Yeah, I'm not that good at them, but they're good fun,” I said.


“I'm pretty much the same. I used to play a lot of card games but since I got my powers none of my friends would play me any more. They felt my power gave me too much of an advantage. I play more of those console games, since my power has no impact, so people will still play me,” said Colin.


I had never thought of powers being an impediment to someone in that way in limiting their hobbies. I guess I had gotten off lucky with my abilities.


Vicky and I decided to head over to the library. Colin didn't fancy that, so bid us farewell. I got my homework out the way since Vicky was coming over, and I wouldn't get much time to do it then. It also meant I could get some more work done on my suit, assuming there was still time after Vicky had gone home.


Once I was finished with the work I had to do I had some time to look at a physics book. I thought this might give me some more ideas for how to use my powers. Even possible additions I might make to my suit that would be run by them.


“What's that you're looking at?” asked Vicky.


“Oh just a physics book,” I replied.


“OK why are you reading that? Bit advanced for our lessons, isn't it?”


“Just trying to learn more about my powers,” I said honestly.


“Oh cool. There are a load of good sites on the net that talk about different sorts of powers. I found out loads about mine there, and got some neat tips as well. You should take a look.”


“I will. I've meant to do it for a while, I’ve just been too busy.”


“I can show you the sites I know when I come over tonight.”




“So what's up with this Colin character then? Are you just going to forgive him for being part of those idiots who attacked us?”


“Well I think so. He never really hurt us. He was with the group, but he has left them and it seems pretty clear they are as much his enemies as ours.”


“So my enemy’s enemy is my friend sort of thing?”


“I guess. It's also that I know what it's like to have no friends, and since it was partly my fault, I felt I should try to fix that.”


“That's fair enough. Have you considered it could be a trap of some kind?”


“How'd ya mean?”


“Well he leaves them seemingly under a cloud, and then befriends us, to then betray us later.”


“Hmmm sounds like a very long game and not really Tara's style. Plus, Colin isn't exactly super secret agent material.”


“It could be an act.”


“Maybe, but I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt.”


“Well I'm going to be watching him like a hawk, anyway. I'm not going to let those idiots get the better of us.”


I smiled at my friend. It was nice that she was watching my back.


We had to head off to lessons after that. All the time I was getting more and more excited about the fact that I was going to have my friend over for dinner. It was something that before my change I could never have hoped for. I could barely focus on my lessons I was so worked up about it.


Come home time I was practically skipping along I was so excited. Dad drove us home and then it was up to my room. I put out Kittybot so she could charge herself. Vicky gave her a quick pet which Kittybot seemed to appreciate, then sat down on my bed.


“So what do you want to do?” she asked.


“I don't know. I've not really had a friend over before.”


“Well, we could listen to some music.”


“OK,” I picked up my tablet and brought up my music collection, selecting a few tracks, then setting it to output through my room’s speaker system. The sounds of one of my favourite groups, Twisted Kitten stared pumping out of the speakers.


“This is pretty good. This that pulse thingy you were talking about?”


“Yeah, they say for the full effect you have to hear them live, since the compression on most music formats only allows for normal human hearing ranges, so the out of range stuff doesn't come through.”


“How do you hear it though, if you don't happen to have super human hearing?”


“As part of the stage pyrotechnics they have a huge flame tube or Ruben's tube which is a pipe sealed at both ends with a load of holes cut in the top. They attach a speaker from their sound system to one end, then pump in some flammable gas and light it. The sound can then cause standing waves in the tube, altering the pressure and then the height of the flames. You can then see the waveform in fire of the music. I've seen some videos of it on the net. It's pretty cool.”


“Sounds cool, come on we should dance!”


“I don't dance.”


“Oh come on, Lexi. It'll be fun!” She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the middle of the room, bouncing around to the music, her flexible limbs moving in wide arcs. It was quite something to watch. I did my best to dance along, but it was more moving from one foot to the other.


“Come on, loosen up a little, move your arms a little more,” Vicky coached, coming to stand behind me and show me how to move.


We danced away for quite a while till Kittybot came over and prodded me to let her up on my shoulder, which I did while still trying to dance. That didn't work so well and caused Vicky to giggle. Pretty soon I was giggling too, and once that happened we couldn't see to stop laughing and collapsed onto my bed laughing. I moved Kittybot so she was standing on my tummy and she looked at the two of us as if wondering what had gotten into the two of us.


I heard a knocking on the door and my mum stuck her head round the door, “Well you two sound like you are having a good time,” she said with a grin, “Anyway it is dinner time, so wash your hands, girls, and come and join us at the table.”


We went giggling to wash our hands. Vicky removed her gloves and gave her flexible hands a scrub before realising that she hadn't shown my parents her odd limbs.


“Have you told your parents about me?” she asked a little worried.


“No. They are not ones to get worked up about things like that though,” I said.


“Are you sure? Maybe I should wear my gloves?”


“No it'll be fine. Come on I'll show you.”


I took my friends hand firmly in mine and led her downstairs to dinner. She was a bit nervous, but I was sure things would be OK. My parents had readily accepted me as a hybrid, so my having a friend who was one would be fine.


We walked into the dinning room where my parents were setting the table. “Hello girls,” said Dad and seemed to notice us holding hands then saw that Vicky's hand was different. He absently brushed his chin and said, “Fascinating.”


“What's that?” asked Mum, looking up.


“Oh, well, the ways MORFS can alter people never ceases to amaze me. So Vicky, you're an octopus or maybe a squid hybrid?” he asked, looking at my friend with a warm smile.


She hesitantly said, “They told me octopus.”


“Amazing,” he said, rubbing his chin some more.


Mum elbowed him in the ribs, “Enough embarrassing the poor girl. I'm hungry, and I'll bet she and Lexi are as well.”


“Yes, yes, of course, dear. I'm sorry my intellectual curiosity got away from me. Come on have a seat girls, and let's have some dinner.”


Vicky seemed to relax more after she found that neither of my parents had any problem with her differences. She even demonstrated a little how her limbs worked for my dad, who couldn't suppress his curiosity for long. We ate and chatted and had a good time. After dinner Vicky and I watched some TV till it was time for her to go home. Dad gave her a lift home and I rode along so I could say goodbye.


When we got back home I rushed out to secret lair (or the garage, as it was otherwise known) and put some effort in on my suit. I took Kittybot along as I felt I had been neglecting my poor metal feline of late. I made remarkable progress and barring a few cosmetic refinements, it was finished.


It stood before me, a four legged platform with a cockpit for me to sit in, and then a stable walking platform beneath. In my excitement I decided not to wait, I would fire it up then and there. I opened the garage and checked to make the coast was clear, then clambered in and took a grip on my controls, allowing my power to flow into the machine. It jerked to life and slowly took a step. I fed it more power, carefully modulating the flow of the fields into the device. There was a shriek of metal grinding against metal, and it took another step. The machine slowly moved out of the garage. It was disappointingly slow. Even with my full measure of power flowing though it animating the metal it moved in a plodding manner. I backed it up into the garage and got out, I kicked it in frustration and promptly regretted it, as it hurt my toes. I picked up Kittybot and held her, stroking her smooth casing while I paced back and forth, trying to work out where I had gone wrong.


“I don't get it Kittybot! I worked out how much force I should get from moving the legs and it should have been more than enough to move me at a reasonable speed. Even at full power, it barely moved,” I said to my robotic companion.


Her display was showing oscillating patterns of blue and red which I took to mean, “Well you must have done the calculations wrong, Lexi.”


“But I didn't. I even asked Dad about them, pretending it was something for school and he said I was right. I don't see where I went wrong.”


“Well,” Kittybot seemed to say with a red green pattern, “Perhaps you missed something.”


I walked over to my machine and examined it more closely. I noticed a lot of the joints showed signs of having rubbed against other metal.


“Hmmm, maybe there was too much friction and it lost all the force due to all the linkages.”


“Quite possibly, Lexi. Stroke my tail.”


“And I have four legs, so four times the friction. Maybe if I redid this joint here, and replaced this with a larger cylinder, and made the feet larger. Hmm… I could rebuild it with two legs and move those legs to be arms, and replace the feet with some sort of grippers.”

“Stroke my tail!”


“Stability might be a problem. Maybe if I make the thing with feet that open out to maximise their contact area it would work better.”


Plans for how to fix my suit rushed through my brain and I was only pulled back to reality by a metal tail patting insistently against my hand.


“Oh, sorry Kittybot, I've been neglecting you again, bad Lexi,” I said, admonishing myself. I stroked Kittybot's tail and she stretched happily.


It was too late to really start fixing my mistakes then and there, so I packed up and headed back to the house with Kittybot perched on my shoulder. I sat down and pulled out my plans for the power armour suit and began redesigning it to fit with the discoveries I had made. I was now thinking of it as a prototype, rather than a failure. It seemed better to think of it that way.


I finished up and headed for bed. At least tomorrow was Friday and I would be able to get lots done over the weekend. In some ways, rethinking my design was a good thing, as I thought of all sorts of refinements and additions I could make to improve it.


Still, it delayed me telling my friend about it, and I didn't really want to be keeping secrets from her. I had to wait till it was ready though, and as today's test had shown, it just wasn't ready.


There was a knock at the door. “Lexi, lights out sweetheart,” said mum sticking her head in.


“Okay, mum,” I replied, shutting my plans and putting them away.


“Did you have a nice time with your friend?”


“Yeah, it was great having Vicky over.”


“She seems like nice girl. I'm glad you're making good friends.”


“Me too, mum.”


“Night Night then, sweetheart.”


“Night, mum.”


I clambered in to bed and Mum flipped the switch off and I hit the hay.


Chapter 9


I woke when my alarm rang shrilly in my ears. I washed, dressed, breakfasted, and was soon in the car and off to school. I was still annoyed by my failure with my suit, and was keen to get back to it and fix the problems, so I was a little distracted. I wandered in to the classroom which was empty and sat staring out of the window lost in thought. I was so distracted I didn't even notice Vicky sit down next to me, until she patted on my shoulder, causing me to let out a squeak and jump three feet in the air.


“Easy, Lexi! It's just me,” my friend said grinning.


I felt embarrassed for jumping like a mouse at nothing more than my friend tapping me on the shoulder. ‘Definitely not really super-villainess behaviour.’ I had been thinking about modifying my suit’s leg design to allow me to jump long distances, and had been so I involved I was completely unaware of my surroundings.


“Kinda highly strung today,” said Vicky as I composed myself.


“I was just thinking, that's all,” I said.


“What about?”


Damn, now I’ve shot myself in the foot, I need to make something up.’ “Oh a few projects I'm working on.”


“Cool, like what.”


“Oh ... Er ... Well some improvements to Kittybot,” I said, racking my brain for what I could say. “I've been thinking about giving her a voice.”


“Sounds cool ... one could even say it's the cat's meow!” Vicky said with a wicked glint in her eyes, trying desperately to suppress the giggles her comment tickled.


I tried to keep a straight face, but it was very hard with my friend on the brink of cracking up about her silly joke. Eventually all it took was one of us to smile slightly for the two of us to break into uproarious laughter, which made the few classmates that had arrived stare at us with bemused expressions. Vicky was laughing so hard she seemed unable to control her boneless limbs and began to slip off her seat. I had to catch her arm, which she wrapped around mine to keep herself from tumbling onto the floor.


Her little comment hadn't been that funny, but now we had set each other off it didn't take much to start us both laughing again. We would calm down and then one of us would glance at the other and try to suppress a smirk, and that would be all it would take to set us off in gales of laughter. I was laughing so hard it hurt and I was beginning to see stars.


We were still struggling to suppress the giggles when our teacher came in. All through the register we were both practically in tears from the effort of suppressing our uncontrollable laughter. It got to the point where the original instigating incident was all but forgotten and now it was just the sheer hilarity of our inability to stop laughing was itself causing us to laugh. It was also the fact that we shouldn't laugh, which made it that much harder to suppress it. I nearly lost it when I had to answer my name. We managed to make it to the bell without getting in trouble but when we got out into the corridor we couldn't help laughing like crazy.


Vicky had to cling to my arm to keep from falling down she was laughing so hard. By the time we got to first lesson the giggles had pretty much died down, but for the rest of the day we had a few random resurgences when one or other of us would smirk a certain way at the other and cause us both to have fits of giggles.


Colin joined us for lunch again, and after he had sat down we had one of our relapses which caused us to giggle like crazy people, much to his amusement. It was the first time I had seen him smile. During the middle of this I saw Tara glaring at the two of us, then get a nasty look on her face, an evil grin. I wondered briefly if I could pull the same thing off. It was pretty good villain material.


Colin suddenly stiffened swung back to look at Tara and then forward to look at me and Vicky. “Watch out!” Cried Colin as a girl walking along behind us with a tray piled high with food mysteriously, (probably with a little help from Tara), tripped and spilled it all over me and Vicky.


We stopped laughing abruptly, then Vicky took her gloved finger and wiped some of the spilled food off her shirt and tasted it. “Mmmm my compliments to the chef, and thanks for the speedy delivery. You need to work on your dismount, though,” she said to the girl standing behind us with a horror struck face and empty tray.


For some reason I found that very funny, and soon myself, then Vicky, then Colin, and eventually even the girl behind us were all laughing manically. The girl was trying to apologise, during bursts of big whooping laughter which only made the rest of us laugh harder. Vicky lost control of her limbs again and slid off onto the floor before I could catch her. She lay there, tears rolling down her cheeks as we laughed like crazy. I saw Tara storm out of the dinning hall, face as dark as a thunder cloud and I felt like I was going to pass out I was laughing so hard.


Eventually we were cleaned up, the girl got some new food and waved us goodbye, still laughing as she went to join her friends. Our giggles had slowed a little but still bubbled just under the surface.


“What has gotten into you two today,” said Colin smiling.


“I don't know,” I giggled, pausing to grab Vicky who nearly fell off her stool again.


We finished up our lunch and decided to head over to the library but while there, another of our giggling fits hit and Miss Gordon said we should go, since we were making too much noise. We went for a walk around school grounds instead. After lunch we managed to calm ourselves enough that we only had the occasional giggle, and actually managed to get some of our school work done.


At the end of the day we walked home together. Dad had to stay for a meeting, so was unable to give us a lift.


“So what are your plans for the weekend?” asked Vicky.


“Oh not sure yet. Might play some games, maybe watch some TV, or go to the shops see what games and things are out,” I replied.


“I'm off to see my Grandma this weekend. Otherwise we could have done something. There's always next weekend.”


“Yeah, that would be nice.”


“It's a bit of a shame. I've been so busy recently we haven't had much time to do stuff.”


“Well we've not know each other long.”


“That's true. It'd be nice to go shopping together or see a film or something.”


“Yeah it would be cool to do that.”


“I can't believe we spent the whole day just laughing.”


“I don't think I've laughed that much before.”


“Yah, me either. I can't even really remember what we were laughing about.”


“That silly joke about the cat's meow.”


“Oh yeah,” Vicky said with a smile.


I gave a little chuckle and her grin deepened.


“He he, oh no you'll set me off again,” she cried, which only made me giggle more. Soon my friend was fighting back giggles of her own. We walked along in near silence, trying to fight back the impending laughter, but as we turned into a small park on our route home we lost it. Bursting out into laughter again. Vicky nearly fell down she was laughing so hard. She had to grab on to me, which only made me shriek with laughter. Somehow we managed to make it to the entrance to my street and we waved good bye to each other, still chortling away. I was still giggling by the time I got back to the house.


“Well, someone's in a good mood,” said mum as I walked into the kitchen.


I tried to tell her about what had happened, but it just made me crack up again, so I couldn't really speak. My mum looked at me with an amused expression and held up her hand as I was gasping for breath from laughing too hard.


“So long as you are enjoying yourself and not getting in any trouble, that's all that matters,” she said and gave me a quick hug.


All throughout making dinner and then the meal itself I would at intervals find myself thinking about the day and have another attack of the giggles. I amused my parents no end.


Once dinner was out of the way I put my giggles aside and headed over to work on my armour. I had a lot to do on it, so I wanted to make a good start. With any luck I could finish this weekend, maybe even have it ready for my first crime.


I went to work tearing apart the old suit and began rebuilding it to my new design. With my faithful companion Kittybot keeping guard, (or at least watching me work), I threw myself at the project. I made pretty good progress. My use of my tools had improved greatly, and I soon had the majority of the work on the new legs done. I had even tested a few parts to ensure they would work properly this time.


I headed home before my parents got curious and came to see what my project was, or came to tell me it was bedtime. I watched a little TV with Kittybot curled up on my shoulder, then headed to bed. I wanted to be ready to start early on Saturday. The sooner I finished my armour, the sooner my life of crime could begin.


I woke bright and early Saturday morning, had a spot of toast, suited up and then went to work. I worked like a mad thing, drilling, cutting, hammering, welding till by lunchtime my machine was complete! I had a quick lunch, deposited a restless Kittybot in the safety of my room, and then got ready to test my latest and greatest creation.


I put on full safety gear. I was taking no chances. Elbow and knee pads I had from when I used to go roller-skating, eye protector goggles, some of my mum’s old steel toe capped work boots, which with a little modification I had got to fit, and my bicycle safety helmet. I clambered into my suit and strapped in. Unlike my previous attempt where I just sat on top, this one contained me in the chest cavity. It meant I had less room, but probably better protection. I prepared to power the thing up slowly, using my powers to animate the suit’s various motions. This was where I found the first design flaw. My suit stood an impressive nine feet tall, but the garage was a little over six. So I couldn't actually stand the thing up in the garage. In the end I had kneel it on a small wheeled cart then moved it out by walking with the arms, which did give me the opportunity to practice my control of the other limbs.


When I finally got it out of the garage without destroying its roof, I surveyed my work. My armoured suit stood nine feet tall, with my small stature contained in the main body of it in a metal armoured shell attached by makeshift shock absorbers to make the ride a little smoother.


It hinged open at the front and the door acted as a set of steps to let me clamber in. Then locked from the inside with a simple bolt. The rusty steel casing made from salvaged parts was mottled dull grey, with small patches of corrosion. The head area had a heavy mesh grill set in a vaguely head shaped box-like structure. The mesh allowed me to see out while protecting my identity. I had a mask as well, to further obscure my face. It had a built-in voice changer which would turn my high pitched voice to a robotic low one. A series of carefully placed mirrors gave me rear and side views. The main limbs of my suit were thick steel sections with various metal pathways for me to thread my magnetics through to allow me to control the limbs and the other toys I had installed.


I checked everything over, then turned and shut the garage before heading off. I carefully fed power to my machine, checking to make sure it functioned as expected. At first I tottered about like a new born lamb, if there was such a thing as a new born lamb nine feet tall made of rusty steel, and walking with a big clomping noise.


As I gained more familiarity with my creation my gait improved and control seemed to come more easily. The huge powerful limbs moved forward with a dull thump. The feet spread out as I stepped down, distributing the weight evenly, making it quieter than you would expect, and improving the balance. I crossed over to a deserted playing field behind the garages to test it properly. I gave the suit more power and it accelerated, running the length of the field very quickly. I grabbed a huge tree trunk left after some tree trimming and easily hefted the tree trunk with no effort. I felt so powerful and alive. My joyful giggles were turned into creepy electronic laughter by my simple voice changer.


I decided to try the jump legs. I fed the circuit a lot of power, feeling it cycle up large and powerful, ready to strike I released the stored power and with an almighty bang I was catapulted up in the air. Using the magnetics, I had accelerated the extendible legs which had hit the ground at some speed.  It took a while before I began to descend again. The legs were designed to extend down after slamming into the ground to propel me up, then stay extended, with a carefully designed magnetic shock absorber to absorb the impact of landing. The legs were on aluminium rails which then moved through a magnetic field on either side of the rail this. induced eddy currents in the aluminium and slowed it's progress, hopefully bringing me gently to a stop.


I had gotten the idea from a book on roller coasters which used the same effect to rapidly and safely slow the cars at the end of the ride. That was the theory at any rate. As I sailed through the air it occurred to me that maybe I should have started with a smaller jump to test the concept. I energised the magnets that would slow my descent and hoped for the best. I landed and thankfully, everything worked as designed. It was a good deal more bone shaking than I had anticipated, but not too bad. I also went a lot further than I had expected, as the jump sent me most of the way across the field.


I decided it was now or never. I had my suit, and it was time to show the world what they got when they messed with me.


On the off chance I did finish, I already had my target picked out, one of the few banks in the area to open on weekends. I had even planned a route there that would keep me hidden from prying eyes, though it occurred to me that I stood out a great deal more now that I was wearing 9 foot tall power battle armour than I normally would have. Maybe I should have worn a hat or something.


I decided speed would be the best way to handle things, and I pounded down the paths and back alleys out of sight of the town centre's ubiquitous surveillance cameras. I passed only one person, a man out walking in a smart suit and trilby hat. He was so intent on his newspaper he didn't even notice me as I pounded past him at a terrific speed .


I reached the bank with time to spare and prepared myself to be fearless and ruthless and thoroughly mean. For some reason I hesitated at the door. 'Is this really the thing to do?' I wondered.


Now that I was here I wasn't sure. While money was useful, now I was at the bank the reality of the whole robbing thing seemed to hit me. Up until now it was just the abstract plan of build an armoured suit for crime. Now I was standing on the pavement outside a bank, and I was having second thoughts. Maybe I should just go home before someone saw me.


I glanced into the bank. All the customers and staff were lying on the floor for some reason. I wondered what was going on, and without really thinking about it opened the door and went in. As I stepped into the bank, which fortunately had very high ceilings allowing my armour access without any problems, I found all the staff and customers cowering, hands over their heads face down on the floor. A group of large men in balaclavas had a series of weapons aimed at them. If that weren't enough, one seemed to also be threatening people with a flaming fist, and another with sparks. These men appeared to already be robbing the bank.


No one seemed to notice me as I realised I was now standing inside the bank while someone else was robbing it. I unconsciously muttered something under my breath, only to have it amplified and distorted by my mask. “Fiddle Sticks!” I said annoyed in a deep robot voice.


Everyone in the room turned to stare at me, noticing for the first time this huge hulking armoured suit standing in the doorway. Most of the customers and employees gasped in fear, thinking I was some sort of back up. The robbers just seemed stunned.


“What the hell!” shouted the tall guy with the flaming fist. “Barry, I thought you cancelled the alarms and cameras!”


“I did, and stop shouting my name, you idiot!” said a scrawny man dressed in all black, He was also the one shooting sparks.


“Well take care of it!” screamed the third one.


“No problem. Some dumb cop or do-gooder in a power suit is no match for my skills!” he boasted. He rounded on me, walking forward and glowering. “You picked the wrong bank to walk into pal. Now they're going to have to cut you out of that crummy suit!”


This wasn't going to plan at all. He let loose a stream of sparks at my suit, which did very little since it had no active components. The only bit of electronics in it was my voice changer mask.


The thug frowned, “I don't get it. It's got nothing in it. It can't be that well shielded.”


While the thugs were occupied, one of customers, a young woman, tried to make a break for it. The third member of the team moved swiftly and smacked her with his pistol. She let out a cry of pain and fell to the ground. The man kicked her a few times for good measure, laughing with each blow.


I moved without thinking about it, swinging out my powerful arms. I grabbed the startled thug in front of me and threw him at the man who was getting his jollies abusing the girl. They crashed to the ground in a tangle of limbs.


“You'll pay for that!” shouted the last standing thug, the one with the flaming hand. He threw a series of fireballs at me, most of which dispersed harmlessly around my armour. The thick metal protected me from the heat, but I knew fire elementals could make fire wherever they wanted in their effective range. Throwing fireballs was just showing off. Not wanting to take a chance he would realise he could roast me from the inside out, I grabbed the nearest item and threw it at him. It turned out to be a potted plant, it clonked him on the head fairly squarely. One of the few sports skills I had learnt was how to throw. Though I couldn't catch or run or jump or kick, I could throw fairly well. He wobbled for a bit, covered in a cloud of dirt and plant leaves, looking disorientated.


He didn't seem to be falling down, and now the other two were coming around. Without they word stood together and raised their firearms, then began shooting at me. The bullets hit the solid plating of my suit without incident. I was fine, but I worried that a ricochet would injure one of the people lying on the ground. I reached out my hand and extended my magnetic power out in as fine a field as I could manage. I swept my rainbow lance of magnetic force across the guns. As luck would have it, they were metal rather than a more advanced ceramic construction. They ripped out of their owners grips and clanged into my outstretched metal palm. I also got a ring, some earrings, some loose change from the thugs and one of those pens on a beaded chains you find in any bank. .


I removed the ammunition, then dropped the guns to the floor and stomped on them, putting them beyond use. The thugs were too busy grabbing at bleeding ears lobes and damaged fingers to notice. I decided to hit them again while I had the upper hand.


I powered up another toy on my arms, charging a small rotating accumulator so that it generated a fairly large current, I discharged it into a some passive circuitry that served to amplify and focus the power, then released a stun bolt. Two out of the three cried out and jerked around like fish out of water. The other was unaffected, but luckily his companions fell on, him keeping him from recovering. I pulled some strong rope out of one of the little storage nooks I had built in and tied the three of them up, making sure to get them secured. I worried about the fire elemental burning his way through their bonds, so I hoisted them up by the rafters and made sure if he cut a rope he would fall face first to the ground.


'What a mess' I thought to myself.


“Thank you! You saved us!” came a cry from the woman who had gotten the bad kicking. She was limping but looked alright.


Soon lots of the bank staff and customers were getting up, seemingly to thank me or some such. I figured I better skedaddle pretty quick before cops and press and all sorts turned up.


I gave an awkward wave and then dived out the door. I heard sirens and saw police cars coming. The gunfire and commotion in the bank must have tipped the coppers off. I powered up for a jump, braced myself, and rocketed skyward. I let out a half crazed cry as my hulking metal suit flew in a parabolic arc way up over the buildings. In my haste to escape I had given the jump far more power than I intended, and as a result I was worried the landing system wouldn't take it.


I stared down at the tiny people as I sailed overhead. It was an odd feeling of freedom. I was almost flying, far enough away from the ground that I could not hear the normal hubbub of daily life. I savoured the feeling while it lasted, noticing in time that I was no longer moving up and forward. Now I was moving down. I energised the magnets that would stop, me making sure I made them as strong as possible. With an almighty thud, I hit the ground, the shock absorbing legs doing their job even under those extreme circumstances, slowing my fall.


Pausing a moment to breath deeply, I ran off as fast as my suit would go. Performing a couple more jumps where necessary to avoid my path being followed, though I never had the courage to replicate my first leap. I managed to reach the garage without incident. After checking to make sure no one was looking, I rolled my suit back into its hiding place and took off my protective clothing. It was only then that I realised in my haste to escape I had forgotten to rob the bank.

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