HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 374

Jeannette shook her head.

“You weren’t wrong to be suspicious,” she said. “In any other circumstance, your instincts probably would’ve been correct. Corporations are seldom as altruistic as they seem. I’m only working within the system because I have to.”

“I suppose I can respect that,” Sam said.

“So what happens now?” Frederica asked. “You can’t just let us go, right? We know too much.”

“I’m not a supervillain,” Jeannette replied. “And you’re not my prisoners. I’ll drop you off wherever you like, just name a destination.”

“Well, I’m staying at the Champion Hotel,” Sam said. “If it’s not too much trouble.”

Jeannette tilted her head slightly and the car hung a left. Frederica realized with a start that there was nobody behind the wheel. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that.

Nila, who hadn’t spoken until now, leaned forward and said, “Can I shake your hand?”

Jeannette raised a bemused eyebrow but extended her hand anyway. Nila took it, turning it this way and that. It looked more like a medical exam than a handshake.

“This is so fucking cool,” she said. “I can’t even tell it’s not real.”

“For all intents and purposes, it is,” Jeannette said. “My skin and musculature is comprised of vat-grown flesh. Another innovation I’ll be rolling out to the public soon.”

“You even have a pulse!” Nila said.

“Maybe you should give the woman her hand back,” Frederica said.

Nila let go of Jeannette.

“Right, sorry.”

“It’s quite alright,” Jeannette said. “Curiosity is a valuable trait. You’d do well to nurture it.”

“I’m working on it,” Nila said. “Getting my Bachelor of Science degree at VCU right now.”

“Good,” Jeannette said. “The world can always use more scientists.”