HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 99

“And when I find out who that was, there’ll be hell to pay,” Judith said.

“You know, one of these days you’re going to have to take responsibility for the monster you created,” Leigh said.

“But then it’ll be my duty to destroy you,” Judith said.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” Leigh said.

Angela smiled faintly. Watching the two of them banter back and forth, she couldn’t help feeling a bit jealous. She’d never been that comfortable around her mother, and her father had taken more of a “Daddy’s Little Princess” approach to parenting. She was never really friends with either of them.

“It’s your move, Angela,” Judith said.

“Oh, sorry,” Angela said.

She stared down at the board. Several possible openings popped into her head, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. She chose one and Judith responded in kind.

The moves came to Angela faster than ever, the sum total of Leigh’s and Judith’s knowledge propelling her along. She was operating almost entirely on reflex. After about half an hour, Angela surprised herself by taking Judith’s king.

“Holy shit,” Leigh said. “Holy shit. No way.”

“Where did you learn to play like that?” Judith asked.

“Here,” Angela replied. “Thirty-five minutes ago.”

“I don’t understand,” Judith said.

“I’m a mimic,” Angela said. “I absorbed your skills when our eyes met.”

“You were basically playing against yourself,” Leigh said.

“And Leigh,” Angela said. “I took her skills too. I think that’s how I won.”

“Are you saying I know things she doesn’t?” Leigh asked.

“Don’t answer that,” Judith said. “It’ll go straight to her head.”

“So, in a way, I just won this match,” Leigh said.

“Oh God,” Judith said, rubbing her forehead. “I’m never going to live this down.”

“Sorry,” Angela said. “Would it help if I beat her, too? I could probably do it faster.”