HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 400

“Why didn’t you mention any of this before?” Magh asked. “You told me you came from a distant land and spent years lost at sea before we met.”

“This is a distant land compared to Verden,” Dee said. “And the sea of time is… admittedly a bit of a stretch, as far as metaphors go. But still, what I told you was true, from a certain point of view.”

“Did she just quote Star Wars?” Tommy asked.

“I… believe she did,” Frederica replied.

“Nice to know people are still watching the originals seventy years later,” he said.

“Movie night with Granddad,” Dee said, smiling to herself.

The car slowed and descended toward the city. An apartment building came into view below them. It was arranged in tiers, each level offset from the previous one like stairs. The “steps” were lined with grass and trees, forming a front yard for each of the homes. The car touched down on a driveway near the top of the building. Dee climbed out and the others followed.

“Who lives here?” Frederica asked, gazing over the edge at the next yard down.

“You’ll see in a moment,” Dee replied. “This way.”

They approached the entrance, designed to look like the facade of an old-fashioned brownstone townhouse. Dee leaned back against the wall beside the door, arms crossed. She nodded to the others. Frederica reached out tentatively and rang the bell. After a minute or two, the door opened.

Dee stood on the other side.

No, not Dee. Not quite. This Dee was younger, Frederica’s age at most, and lacked the scars and confidence of her older counterpart. She wore a purple hoodie and jeans and had a confused expression on her face.

“What are you guys doing back so soon?” she said. “And why do you look so different?”

Frederica and Magh traded a glance.

“You… know us?” Magh asked.

“Um… yeah,” the girl replied. “What’s going on? Are you okay, Mom?”