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Authors: R.S. Darling

Orphan of mythcorp

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Orphan of Mythcorp

A Mythcorp Novel, Book 4

Smashwords Edition, 2015

Story by R.S. Darling

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Chapter 1

When Mythcorp Tower rose into view, I didn’ttell anyone. I’m no fool.

“Is that it?” Galahad asked on spottingthe notorious building. Even worse, he shot out of his seat andpressed his face to the filmy window. “Is thatMythcorp?”

I yanked him back down. “Shh! You want to getus sent back to the Home?”

He mumbled a response, but this and themindless chatter of Morai all around me on the bus dulled to whitenoise as I gaped up at Mythcorp. Somewhere in that fifteen storytomb were the answers I’d been asking since I could . . . ask. Whathappened to the original Morai? Why had we spent all our lives in agovernment funded, bars-on-the-windows day-care prison? Why were weonly just now being released? And of course, the King Kong ofqueries: who weremyparents?

Attention wavered as Galahad shifted besideme on the ripped leather bench. Voices returned in a slam-bangrush. Someone was yelling.

Our faces mashed into the seatbacks ahead ofus as the bus lurched to a screeching halt.

“Check out that kook,” Galahad said,recovering quickly.

Following his gaze, I saw the kook; somestrangely duded up man was approaching our bus with the swagger ofa doojee-fiend at the end of his binge. With his scarred mug andhuge raggedy fur coat he looked like a bear that’d scarcelysurvived a fight with a pride of lions.

“What’s he doing?” Galahad asked. “He’sgoing to get run over, walking in the street like adum-dum.”

He had a good point. A smidge part of me, thedevil-on-my-shoulder part, hoped the kook would get pancaked. It’dserve him right for interrupting our first sighting of MythcorpTower.

As the man lurched towards us through the redlight, twelve sets of white peepers and my own pair of hazels boredown on him. He paused about ten feet in front of our bus to presssomething in his hand; the traffic lights began to blink rapidly,red-orange-green, as though stupefied by the sight. Virgil’sNave—six sky-ticklers ranged like sentries around the derelictTower—shimmered in morning sun behind the kook.

Our bus caught the jive from the lights andbarfed up a few sparks. Something rattled up front. The stink ofmelting plastic filled the bus as the engine sputtered. Death moansof a Hybrid Cummins.

Perhaps we should’ve run at this point.Woulda-shoulda-coulda.

A girly cry escaped from Mr. Malory, our busdriver; I’d never be able to think of him as a real man again. Evenso, I followed his peepers to the folding door where the heavy-dutyDavy Crockett wannabe was standing outside peeping in. He shovedhis hand (an appendage comprised of blue-black metal) between thedoor and the frame and pried it open. Mr. Malory yelled, “What doyou want?”

When the cats in DC had announced they weretransferring us from Ava’s Home for Lost Children to PhilicityHigh, the Myth Free Zoners—an anti-Mythcorp group—had conditionallypromised not to intervene, and so we were being carted off withoutthe strength of an armed guard. All we had in the way of protectionwas Mr. Malory the screeching zipperdick.

Thanks Uncle Sam. Just keep pinching thosepennies.

The bearskin-cloaked kook scanned the bus. Iwas sitting four rows back, not far enough to be spared the sightof his glowing right peeper, one of those crude augmetics from theearly years of this century. It paused on me. Was that a look ofrecognition? His gaze continued on to Ash (the littlest Morai) andyou could almost hear the crimson pupil dilating. The way hegoggled Ash made me wonder if he was a puff as well as a kook.

Before anyone could react, the man leaptforward, grabbed Ash by the collar and dragged him off the bus.This was no holy-moly feat, since Ash stands only five feet andsome chump change, and as a Morai he’s about as heavy as a bag ofhair. Still, it was totally not cool.

The guys on my side gawked through filmywindows at Davy Crocket as he dragged Ash through the wrought ironentrance into Lincoln Park, oblivious to the honking horns. Theguys from the other side jumped up and shoved their way through usgawkers to steal a peep at the unfolding scene, a full blownobamafest.

Mr. Malory scrambled to hit the EMS screen.When that didn’t even offer a squelch, he picked up his FAD. Aftertapping a few buttons he threw the phone onto the dash and cursed.“Dummit all!”

“Call the police,” several Moraiordered, while Galahad cried, “Oh man oh man. What apisser.”

Like any fifteen-year old guy, I’d fantasizedabout being the super hero, but so far I was coming up pretty limp.My pumper was gushing blood with whiz-bang gusto, trying toconvince me it would explode if I didn’t grow a pair soon, when thekook halted about twenty feet away. He glanced back at us, and thenwhipped Ash around so we couldn’t see him.

Under nickel-colored clouds, Davy Crockettstood looming over Ash, possibly whispering. Several ticks later hestood up straight and started limping back towards the bus. Hisright knee seemed to bulge unnaturally. Either it was wrapped in adressing or there was another augmetic implant living in monkhoodunderneath his khakis. He loomed closer, larger and more hideouswith every step. He might have just come in off some ancientbattlefield.

Someone unleashed a cute little yelp.

Mr. Malory struggled with the lever to shutthe door, but the kook caught it with his metallic hand and held itopen with seeming ease. A worn black combat boot rose to the firststep; a matching boot followed, also rough and torn and painted inshades of grime.

“What?” Mr. Malory demanded. “What doyou want? I’ve called the police.”

“No, you haven’t.” His voice wasflavored by the raspy sound of a rebreather. I’d heard a rumor of asurfer having paid to have a pair surgically implanted in hislungs, so he could breathe underwater. Is that what this kook had?What in blazes happened to him?

Ava scampered to the back of the bus, leavinga faint perfume trail in her wake. Hoo-boy. That fruity scent getsme every time. If I wasn’t careful, this obamafest would rev me up.The noggin-docs at the Home would have a field day with me. Iremained seated where I was as the back end of the bus grewcongested with Morai. I considered joining them—just to comfortthem, of course, not because I was scared or anything.

With the whine of a servomotor, Davy Crocketttook the last step up into the bus. He faced Mr. Malory, who sattrying to control his wheezes.

I was totally about to stand and command thekook to leave, use a Mesmer on him maybe, and look like a totalhero, but just then he whisked something out from a pocket insidethe fur-coat. The slam-bang move incited a collective gasp. Butthis shocker was nothing compared with what followed.

The man shot Mr. Malory.

It wasn’t a real gun. I didn’t think it was,anyway; I’d never heard a real one discharge. It was quieter thanwhat I thought a proper gunshot should sound like. Mr. Maloryjerked in his seat, brought his hand up to his neck, and removed asilvery dart.

And then the only adult chaperon we of Homehad been given, slumped. I hoped he was only conked out and noteternally buggered. Was this what the outside world was like? Maybethose bigoted Zoners were right in lobbying to keep us locked up inthe Home all these years. For some reason my hand was over mymouth. I dropped it before anyone could catch me performing such agirlie gesture.

Sir Kooky Cloak turned to face us. Well, toface me, I was closest to him. Everyone else had fled to the rear,which gave me the dubious credit of being the bold one. Dynamite. Ihadn’t even had to do anything but sit on my bum and not act on theurge to vamoose.

‘Oh my gosh,’ Marie inhaled. She’s oneof the spooks who’ve been haunting me since birth. I hate it whenshe just appears beside me all BOOGITTY-BOO like. I hoped tosomeday find a way to wrap a bell around her intangible neck, giveme some warning. ‘It’s him.’

“Who?” I whispered.

‘The Hunter,’ Marie said in alike-duhmanner. ‘I can’t believe he’s still alive.Ooh look at that squirrel. So cute.’ And with a flicker of heressence and a quiet bamf, she vanished. Her kind could be useful,but with their own spectral version of ADD, they’re mostly justannoying.

The man scowled at me like I’d crapped on hislawn in a previous life. His hand twitched and there was a distinctclick-clack from the dart-gun-thing.

“Okay, we get it,” a soft, intelligentvoice said from behind me. “You’re tougher than a bunch ofstudents. Congratulations, you get the Ass-hole of the Year Award.”Ava had been born without a filter on her shapely red lips. I knewtheir shape by heart. Hopefully someday by taste.

Without even blinking, the man readjusted hisaim from my face to Ava’s chest.

“No!” I surprised myself with thiswhiplash tone. “You don’t care about her. You came for me, didn’tyou?” Hadn’t planned on saying that. Weird.

“Do you know who you are?” in thatraspy-mechanical voice. Shivers up my spine.

I leaned forward and stood on mysteriouslywobbly legs. “No. Do you?” On the outskirts of my attention,drivers around the bus were checking under their hoods, flailingtheir arms like dum-dums. Why were they not helping us? Couldn’tthey see what was going on here?

“You’re a bastard and a sonofabitch,”the Hunter snarled, retraining his gun on me.

“You don’t want to do that,” Ash said,appearing at the door behind the man. The man hesitated as a lookof megabomb frustration crinkled his face. He turned and peereddown at Ash as the Morai said: “You are leaving.”

I’d heard this calm tone from him before,when he had tried out his ability on Mr. Bors, caretaker of theHome. The bus was silent as the Hunter fought Ash’s Mesmer.

Their peepers were connected now. The mannever had a chance. You don’t lock peepers with a Morai. Heholstered his gun and stepped off the bus without another word. Tenticks later the tail of his bearskin coat vanished, embraced by theshadows of Lincoln Park.

Cheers from the back of the bus. Ash walkedup to me in his usual gait, hands folded in front. Such azipperdick. He had to crane his neck to look up at my face, as Istand nearly six feet tall. “You all right?” he asked. I nodded andthat was that. Among us orphans much is said without words. He’djust broken the law by using an extra-human ability and no one herewas going to turn him in.

While half the bus gathered around the littlescene-stealer to shake hands and to praise him, Ava came up to me.“You know,” I said, “that was remarkably stupid of you.”

“I was just distracting him to give Ashtime to come up and do his thing.” She smirked.

“Yes,” I sighed, “thank the stars Ashcame along when he did.” The crowd around Ash surged, forcing Avaforward, into my arms. God, she smelled good.

“Thanks,” she bit her lip. Yup, she wasdefinitely hot for me. After I’d released her from my admittedlyunnecessarily-tight grasp, Ava said “So what was all that crapabout ‘do you know who you are’ and ‘no, who am I’?”

I hesitated. “Just trying to distract thatkook long enough for the great Ash-man to show up.” Smooth, realsmooth.

“Right,” Ava smirked.

The police arrived six minutes later. By theneveryone had taken their seats, and Ash was wearing a smile thatthreatened to split his face in two. That would be a sight to see,sure as sure.

Whatever the Hunter had used to bugger thepower in the traffic lights, our bus, and in the nearby cars, ithad done a permanent job. But the cop cars worked and joy of joyswe were all herded into two Philicity Police prisoner-transportvans. So not only did we still have to go to a public school, butnow we were going to be transported there in police vans, like abunch of J-Dean delinquents.