HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 41

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just can’t get it to start. I’ve tried everything I can think of. I’m probably going to have to tear the whole thing apart and go over it piece by piece.”

Frederica summoned her technopathic ability and focused on the jetpack. She could sense the inner workings of the machine, follow the flow of electricity through its veins, all the way down to….

“One of your circuit boards is failing.” She kneeled beside the jetpack and opened an access panel on the back. “This one right here.”

The boy stared at Frederica for a moment, then grabbed a new circuit board from his toolbox. He swapped the boards and flipped a switch. The jetpack rumbled to life.

“Holy shit,” he muttered. “How’d you know that?”

“Fred’s full of surprises,” Griffith said. “Aren’t you?”

She smiled and took off her jacket, under which she was wearing a low back top she’d borrowed from Nila. She glanced at Griffith and yellow wings sprouted from her back again.

“You must be the mimic I’ve been hearing about.”

A black woman with leathery bat wings on her back stepped out of the crowd and looked Frederica up and down. She was shorter than Frederica, but heavier, and maybe a year or two older. Their eyes met and Frederica’s wings changed, shedding their feathers and contorting into a bat-like shape. She felt a chill from all the extra exposed skin.

“Fred, this is Karen,” Griffith said. “She’s the friend I mentioned the other day. The one who works on the Review.”

“Oh, uh, nice to meet you,” Frederica said, shaking Karen’s hand. “I’m in Journalism too. But I guess Griff probably already mentioned that part.”

“He did,” Karen said. “He wouldn’t shut up about you, in fact.”

Frederica felt her face turn red. She looked away.

Karen,” Griffith said.

“What?” she said.

He sighed.

“Nothing,” he said. “Let’s just fly.”