Armo liked Sam Temple’s apartment. One living room, two bedrooms, a medium sized kitchen, and the best thing-a tv. Currently they were watching a news broadcast that interrupted some Disney movie Armo never remembered. The news channel had somehow got their hands on footage of the attack in Los Angeles, judging by the angle either the boat or the helicopters in the air at the time.
A great white bear, at least twice the size of a normal bear with grey shiny metal claws, and a thing with leopard top-half, and snake hair, normal bottom was both attacking the great dragonesque volcano, while the first inklings of the seastar minions crawled to the top of the boat.
A flea/mosquito girl zooming back and forth creating chaos between the whip arm boy and Napalm, stopping for a second to see her long enough as the first seastar arm crawled through the boat. Sam, lazily curling up to Dekka like he was part cat not her, turned the channel and draped himself completely over Dekka.
Armo had never seen someone so close to Dekka, that didn’t at least have degree to the touching rule, he himself found it a little awkward holding onto herself for the trip on the motorcycle. But it seemed that Sam Temple was the only exception to that rule. Armo like most people heard about the PBA, he like normal people called it what they called it; the Fayz.
He only knew a few by name, Sam, Lana, and Albert. The big three as shocking as it was to Dekka. Sam, the leader, big-time hero, schoolbus Sam. Lana, healer, friend, the most respected person during and after the dome. Albert, the businessman, the wealthiest, and the most adjusted.
A knock on the door made both of them freeze, before Sam simply smiled and opened the door. Armo did not know their names. He had taken to calling them Mosquito-Girl, that One Dude, and Wow, He’s Taller Than Me. One Dude still had slight burns over his body, but he smiled weakly at the others in the room.
“We never formally introduced ourselves. I am Malik,” He stuck his hand out towards Sam. Malik had almost fallen over and his against the girl.
“Sam Temple, and are y’all thirsty?” Sam shook his hand back before gesturing to the kitchen.
“Tea would be great,” Mosquito-Girl spoke up. Malik elbowed her, “I’m Shade Darby.”
“Dekka Talent,” Dekka did not get up to greet them, they did not move to greet her.
“I’m Cruz, and please use female pronouns for me,” The last one spoke up.
“You’re trans?” Armo was not graceful with words ever.
“Sorta. I just feel most comfortable with girl pronouns,” Shade was staring at him, judging his reactions, Armo hated being judged.
“I am Aristotle Adamo, but everyone calls me the Amazing Armo,” Sam had come back with a jar-yes an actually jar-of tea. Shade had set it on the table before pulling something out of her pocket. A ziplock baggie with greenish-grey powder not even an ounce left.
“What are planning on doing with that?” Dekka had sat up straighter and was frowning deeply; she always looks angry but now she looks like she will kill someone. Shade did not respond but poured and stirred the powder with the straw Sam had given her. Handing the jar back to Sam she said, “Hey I’d thought if the great hero of the Fayz had the last of this, would be a whole lot better than someone I don’t know.”
“You don’t know me,” Sam said, smirking slightly. He took the tea anyway and looked back at Dekka, “What do you think?”
Dekka in her ever calming and authrotive face stayed passive, but Sam had nodded like he could read minds-that would so be a better power than turning into a polar bear.
Sam did not chug the tea, did not pour it over his or in the sink, he took the straw and slowly drank, pausing because he wasn’t thirsty, or bored. Armo kept his eyes on Cruz. Cruz was tall, and quiet, her skin was a nice tanish-golden tone that seemed a little pale for her for some weird idea in Armo’s head.
Armo had seen lots of girls, never had he seen a transgirl, and after hearing her explain he had never met a genderfluid person, until Cruz. Cruz’s hair was damp and hung low against her neck like shaggy dog hair, her eyes were soft brown, like maple mixed with oak. Her teeth were white, her clothes like her hair seemed damp, and weighing her down. He did not think of her as many would, an experiment, a scientific subject, or some shiny thing to say ‘look i care!!!! im not mean, im an ally!’.
He saw her as a very tall, very quiet, very pretty human being who was figuring out themselves. Many in his old school would definitely beat her up. Armo wouldn’t but he wouldn’t stand up for her either. Thinking about that sent a wave of guilt through Armo’s chest, as Cruz laughed very out of nowhere loud at Sam’s joke. His only thought was that Cruz had a laugh that was lovely because you hardly ever got to hear it.
Armo was in a little sense scared of Shade. He did not like being scared. Not the in his-boots-shaking fear, but rather as she-will-hate-me-if-i-do-this fear. Armo was sitting next to Cruz on Sam’s grey-blue accented couch, giggling about some movie on the tv. Shade was staring at his back from the kitchen doorway. Shade had red-brown hair that looked black when it was late enough, or when she was pissed enough.
Shade had ocean-grey-blue eyes that seemed to look past every and anything. They had only been there for a few hours. Sam had ran to the bathroom throwing up, Dekka following him leaving the new kids alone. The most striking feature of Shade was her scar, but it was not the most terrifying feature. That award went to the shameless devotion that people seem to give her out of nowhere. Armo had about a seven word conversation with her and was scared of disappointing her.
Shade had finally left the kitchen doorway and ran her fingers through Armo’s hair. She wrapped her arm around Cruz’s side and turned towards him. Now, Shade was right behind Cruz smiling her cat smile, and whispered only so the three of them could hear, “So, Armo, where were you before this whole thing started?”
For some reason, Armo was sure she already knew and was testing him. Cruz tilted her head and smiled probably already knowing that Armo was freaking out about Shade and trying to calm him.
“I went to this high school in Hollywood. I had this sweet car, like went to 163 miles per hour in three seconds, and got into a wreck,” Armo tapered off, slowly down, “the government lied to parents and told ‘em I died on impact or shit. Cause next thing I know I’m in some freaky hospital, that wasn’t a hospital, and the military general lady is-was trying to get me to listen to her. But, uh I have some bullshit called ODD, so there’s that, I guess.”
Cruz did not stop smiling reassuringly at him, Shade did not stop cat-smiling at him, Malik did not wake up from sleeping on the couch. Dekka and Sam came in, Sam holding his mouth moaning slightly, while Dekka rubbed his back. Sam said, “I hate my new power, and my old one, y’know what for luck’s sake, I hate everyone’s new and old power.”
Dekka had chuckled, “I’m sorry but you drank the tea.”
“Fuck you,” Sam had collapsed next to Armo, “Armo, please let me use you as a pillow. Dekka’s too mean to deserve that honor.”
“Uhh, sure, man,” Armo had not expected Sam to grab him by the chest and pull him down. But, man, Sam was way stronger than he looked.
“So, what’s your new power?” Shade asked, finally stopping the cat-smile.
Sam groaned, “The fucking Dark Watchers send some dead people to me to tell me the fucking future, god. I sound crazy.”
“Did you see one now?” Cruz asked carefully, and softly.
“Yeah, a little spitfire who never listened to anyone expect herself.”
“The Breeze,” Dekka said, hollowed out a little. Armo heard a tiniest bit about her from Dekka.
“Yeah, and she said we need to find the healer,” Sam nuzzled even harder against Armo, “we’ll google her address later.”
Just like that Sam fell asleep, then Cruz began to snore on Armo’s shoulder, Dekka slept back-to-back with Sam, Shade her feet on Cruz’s lap, and head on Malik’s stomach. Amro felt really really warm.
They were in Sam’s blue-ish Hyundai Tucson, some song on the radio that no one knew sometimes interrupted by instructions from Sam’s phone. Turns out to find Lana Arwen Lazar’s house, you needed her full name. Seems that since she was dating one of the Brattle-Chance’s kids, she lived with the family, along with the family’s three dogs, Patrick the faithful golden lab, Kent the brave pitbull, and Thor the leader boxer.
Sam hummed as he went through his phone. Shade was sitting on Malik’s lap, and seemed to watch the way the land moved around them, probably seemed like she was walking with her powers. Cruz was on Armo’s other side, changing her appearance to people she saw outside in their cars, trying to improve without memorizing and improvising. Dekka was driving, her motorcycle was left with the girl she talked to at Perdido Beach.
“Sam, see that notebook, and pen between your legs?” Dekka never letting her eyes leave the road.
“Yup, Dekks,” Sam smiled and put his phone in the drink carrier, “What you want me to do?”
“Write down everything you know about the new kids, the old ones, the dark watchers, the government.”
“Why?” Cruz asked, genuinely curious. Armo had to admit he was curious, too. But he knew Dekka wouldn’t tell them unless she thought it was important.
“All the power in the world is useless, if you’re stupid,” Shade spoke up her head now against Malik’s. Armo finally took a long look at him. Malik was a nice mixed of dark skin, and light skin. He was a little lighter than Dekka, but seemed to have darker hair that her which he shaved down after the attack but was coming back faster than Armo knew normal hair to grow.
His eyes looked black in the wrong light, and the deepest darkest brown in the right light. His skin was reddish, like he picked it too much, but everyone in the car knew it was burns from that starfish creature. He had come into his powers, but had not shown the other’s yet. He was quiet, different from Cruz’s quiet. Cruz was quiet from fear, he was quiet for not having anything to say.
“So, let’s start with the contenders for round two,” Sam said smiling, and clicking his pen. Armo tuned him out and only paid attention when it came to writing information about him. By the time they were done writing down, they were only fifteen minutes away from Lana’s house.
The house had a seven foot stone fence, the stones a light yellowish paint to seem happy and friendly the gate with B-C intersecting on the intricate design did not. Driving up to the gate, Dekka buzzed the security intercom.
“How can I help you?” a female voice Armo knew as Jennifer Brattle.
“I would like to speak with Lana, it’s -”
“No, I’m sorry but Lana is not here.” The intercom shut off and Dekka glared at it.
“Should we try again?” Cruz said looking towards the others, mostly Shade.
“Should I roar at the gate?” Dekka asked edge in her voice, and glared through the windshield at the insignia.
“Let me try something,” Armo unbuckled himself and crawled in the front, his feet still in the back. After buzzing once, “What can I do for you?”
This time it was Todd Chance.
“Hi, I’m Aristotle Adamo. I’m sure you remember my dad? He directed The Alien Wars , Alex Adamo. He wanted me to come by and ask you some questions since I wanna be actor after high school.”
“Well, anything for Alex, come on in.” The intercom buzzed and Armo sat back, and smirked. The gate opened, cutting the B and C away from each other.
“Nice thinking,” Dekka praised from the front, pulling up.
“Did you actually wanna be actor after school?” Cruz asked staring at the gardens in the front.
“I had no idea what I wanted to be,” Armo stated as the pulled right in front. A young man, definitely not that older than Armo was outside the door on the porch waiting. He was as dark as Dekka, but a lot shorter.
As they piled out the car, he spoke up, “Can’t you reporters leave Lana alone, plus lying to Todd is awful.”
“Maybe if your bitch of a mom let me finish she would let us in without the lying,” Dekka said.
“And I didn’t lie,” Armo said as he stepped out the car.
“Dekka,” the young man said staring at her, completely ignoring Armo.
“Aww, Am I chopped liver?” Sam smiled from his place.
“Sam,” the young man sighed, “What do you two want?”
“We’re here, too, y’know,” Shade said from Armo’s left, Cruz was on his right, Malik on Shade’s left.
“Shh, the adults are talking,” the young man waved his arm at Shade.
“I’m pretty sure Armo is two months older than you, Choo,” Dekka said smiling with her arms crossed.
“What do you two want?” Choo repeated.
“We just wanna talk to Lana,” Sam said smiling.
“She’s in the back with her dogs,” he waved over Dekka and Sam. Armo and the new kids tried to follow but Choo pointed at them, “No. You four are gonna hang out with my dad since that’s how you tricked your way in.”
“This is so not fair,” Shade said simply. Todd Chance walked through the front door, Jennifer and two kids Armo knew as Pixie and Bowie came. Bowie had pale skin, teary blue eyes, and was shorter than Pixie shockingly. Pixie was a very skinny chinese girl that was incredibly tall and made her look like a walking stick.
Todd nodded, and smiled, “Ah, Aristotle, it is so nice to see an old friend’s child. How is Alex?”
Armo waved his arm off, “Oh. Busy thinking about the all new movies my mom wrote.”
Todd’s smile grew wider, “Oh, I can’t wait to see what he produces. A true man of genius he is…” Todd continued to prattle on about acting, Alex’s success, his hope to be in the next blockbuster that Alex wrote. Armo had heard is several times all from different celebrities. He knew that they never meant it.
The tour ended in the garden where a beautiful native american girl was sitting in the grass with 4 people. 3 were Sam, Dekka, and Choo. The fourth was an Indian boy, much taller and skinnier than anyone Armo ever saw. Even taller than Cruz, maybe not as skinny as than her. Todd left them alone with their friends.
The girl - who Armo assumed was Lana - looked and gave them a flat look, “So this them’s.”
Sam looked back at them, and nodded. Lana seemed as angry at the fact the powers came back.
“I’m -” Shade started.
“I know who you are,” Lana interrupted before turning into Sanjit’s chest, “and I’m not coming along.”
“But the Dark Watch-” Malik started.
“I don’t care,” Lana interrupted again. Sam froze and stared at a space kinda far away, “oh, god.”
Sam was shaking badly, and brought his hand up to his mouth, “I’m sorry.” his voice was so quietly and soft, so broken. Tears came out faster than Armo knew possible.
“I should have paid attention. I should have noticed you. I should have… cared,” Sam was talking fast and he ended up facing the ground and no one moved. Dekka began to rub Sam’s back.
“You’re not gonna throw up again, are you?” Shade asked. Dekka, Lana, and Sanjit all glared while Choo was staring the space that freaked Sam out.
“What’s the matter with you?”
Dekka asked, “who do you see?”
Sam choked out two words and kept repeating them, “Mother Mary.”
All the original Fayz kids froze, Choo crossed himself, and Sam choked out more tears. Malik knelt down and took Dekka’s place rubbing Sam’s back. Armo didn’t remember any girl ever named Mary or referred to as Mother Mary. After several minutes of crying, Sam went mute, the tears kept going down his face.
He looked at the spot and whispered, “no.”
After 20 minutes Sam finally calmed down enough to talk about what happened.
“Congratulations, Lana,” Sam said not looking anyone in the eye, “you’re pregnant.”
Lana was leaning in the window of the Hyundai, talking with Sam.
“Were you going now?” Lana asked playing with Sam’s hair.
“Mary… Mary said to find the gold lizard.” Sam leaned his head as close as possible to Lana’s chest, “Taylor.”
Armo exchanged goodbyes with Todd and Jennifer, before crawling back in the car. Shade wanted to sit on a seat, so Cruz had to sit on either Malik’s or Armo’s lap. Armo wasn’t sure which option he wanted.
“How we gonna find her?” Dekka asked from behind the wheel.
“Lana,” Sam said as he made eye contact with her, “she fixed Taylor up. She’s connected to her.”
“How we do this?” Lana asked. Sam grabbed her head, and leaned their foreheads together. Sam’s closed eyelashes fluttered against Lana. Lana closed her eyes. After half a minute of the strange display, Sam let go of Lana.
“ God, ” Lana breathed out, “It’s like euphoric.”
Sam shrugged, “guess. First time I did it.”
Lana shook her head, she seem like she was still coming of the high of whatever Sam did, “Dekka do not do that, understand?”
Dekka nodded, “trust ya, healer.”
Dekka began to pull out. Lana, Sanjit and Choo waved them goodbye. Armo was unsure of how they were gonna do anything. But he was with the others, he’s okay.