All characters are mine and mine alone. If they look like anybody you know or think you know, it's sheer coincidence. This story does contain some violence and sexual content. If you don't like either of those, please try your call again.
Synopsis: These are the extraordinary adventures of an ordinary lesbian who lives alone with her pets and just happens to drive a bus for a superhero high school.
Special thanks to a woman who I call many things but the greatest thing I call her is ‘friend'. Thanks Michele.
Questions? Comments? Rude remarks? firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brice Johnson's life was fairly normal except for the fact that she was a school bus driver. However she wasn't just any school bus driver. She was a high school bus driver of International High School for Gifted Students.
International High is where students with supernatural abilities attend school to get a ‘well-rounded education' or at least that's what the pamphlet said. They were taught regular academics along with how to become the best superhero they could be. Students who were deemed suitable, and who were willing, received jobs from different government agencies (all whom acted under a special branch of the United Nations) to serve and protect. Those who were deemed unsuitable for superhero status were offered jobs as sidekicks or were paid to attend colleges to learn how to protect the identity of the superheroes. They went on to be bankers, lawyers, or doctors.
Brice had had to go through two years of training before she was allowed to become a bus driver. Getting her regular bus driver's license was easy, but she also had to learn how to fly a jet and pilot a submarine. International High never stayed in one place for too long. This was safety precaution to protect the school and its students from being discovered by anyone would who want to harm them. Sometimes it would be up in the air, underwater, or sitting out in some field in the middle of Kansas. Only bus drivers and teachers were given access to the current location of the school. Bus drivers were able to obtain the location at any time while they were inside of their bus. However to get inside of their bus, they had to put in a fifteen digit pass code, and go through a series of DNA scans. The whole process took about two minutes.
There were seven bus drivers for International High. Brice had the North American route. She used to have a stop in Iceland, but the boy had graduated last year. Most of her stops were in the United States, with the exception of three kids she picked up in Canada and five in Mexico. Her bus could hold forty kids, but she had only thirty six riders.
Brice was twenty seven years old and had been a bus driver for three years. After two years of training, she had to go through a year of mentorship until the old bus driver retired.
Brice hadn't planned on being bus driver when she graduated high school. She had floundered for a year before making up her mind. Finally, she applied to become a bus driver at International High with her parents as her recommendations.
Not just any civilian could become a bus driver for the greatest school in the entire world. Only those who have the highest recommendations would even be considered. It helped if the candidate had attended International High, or had some sort of superpower. Brice had never attended International High, nor had she any powers. She was one hundred percent ordinary. Her family, on the other hand, was a different story.
Her mother was the superhero Majesta, whose gift was super strength. Her father was Morphous, who could shape shift into anybody or anything. Even though they could be weird at times, Brice knew she had the best parents in world.
Brice had come out to her parents when she was seventeen, and her parents couldn't have been more accepting. Brice had felt so relieved, but unfortunately for her, her parents couldn't leave well enough alone. Her mother confessed that she was bisexual herself at which her father added, “Yes, your mother is completely bisexual. If it wasn't for the fact that I was a shape shifter, I don't know if she would have married me.” Brice had to leave the room, gagging at the mental images her father had created. She didn't even want to think about what her father shifted into at night for her mother. Her parents were sometimes a little too honest with their kids.
All of Brice's grandparents had superpowers, and Brice's younger brother was a flyer like their mother's mother. He was a senior at International High, but he didn't ride the bus. He rode to school with their father, who was also a teacher at the school. Brice was the first person in their family to be a baron, the name for those who should have superpowers but are barren. Brice figured she had to be the queen of barons since she came from such a long line of superheroes. Most barons had only one superhero parent, or a parent who was a sidekick. Though her family never mentioned it, she knew she had caused them great disappointment.
Brice's first adventure started on a Wednesday. The actual adventure happened on Thursday, but it started on Wednesday. Brice began her day as she normally would. She woke up at four in the morning to her alarm clock. She took a shower while her coffee brewed automatically and then put on her blue and black uniform. She put out food for her puppy, Monty, and her kitten, Python.
Brice had found them outside her house, together, and hadn't been able to turn them away. She tried to search for their real owner, but nobody claimed them. The first couple of weeks she had them, she took them with her to work. They were so weak and hungry she had to nurse them every hour. The kids didn't seem to mind. One girl could even communicate with animals, and she told Brice that they were very happy to be with her. Brice asked her to let them know not to chew or scratch up the furniture, and to go potty in the designated areas.
Brice filled up her thermos with coffee and walked out to her bus. Brice figured she could probably enter her pass code and go through the scans in her sleep but only if she learned to sleep with her eyes open. One of the scans was a retinal scan. She read the coordinates of the school as she started her bus up. She had to go straight to the school, which was now hovering near Hawaii. Brice had to pick up what she called her night bunch. There was a night and morning crowd for all bus drivers since the school had two different school times for the Eastern and Western Hemisphere. All students had a choice of what time they wanted to go to school. Most of Brice's kids went during W time, which was from 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). There were a few kids on her route that chose to go to school during E time which was from 10pm to 6am EST. Brice's house was on a remote mountain in Tennessee, so she went by EST.
Brice got to the school in enough time to fill up her bus with a secret fuel formula at the gas station on school property. She nodded her head at Felipe, who was also filling up his bus on the opposite side of the pump. Felipe had the South and Central America route. He said, “Hola, Brice. How are you?”
“I'm doing well. Y tú?”
“Good. My wife is going to have her baby any day now.”
“I can't wait until you're gone on paternity leave. You won't be hogging all the air space.”
“You'll miss me,” Felipe said.
Brice laughed and got back inside her bus. She drove to the front of school, just in time to hear the bell ring. She had five kids that went during E time, and she waited until all five kids were on the bus, four boys and one girl. She assumed they were night owls. She dropped the first boy off in Hawaii, the next boy in Canada, and the last two boys (twins) off in Las Vegas. The girl she dropped off in a remote marsh in Alabama.
Brice knew the girl's name was Greer Watson. She was eighteen and a senior. Brice knew that her power was in telekinetics, but she also had a touch of premonition. Greer hadn't told her any of this of course. The stubborn senior hadn't said more then a handful of words to Brice since they met on Greer's first day of high school. Brice knew because she read all of her students' files.
Like always, when Brice dropped off Greer, her younger brother was waiting for her. Greer's brother, John, went to International High even though he was only ten years old. He had just started last year. The school stated they wanted him to attend school until he was fifteen. He was a very gifted child in academics, and his powers were starting to show. He showed great promise in premonition, and he had extremely quick reflexes.
Brice often worried about Greer and John's home life. Their files stated they lived with their mother, but Brice had never seen her. There was no mention of a father in their records.
Sometimes John, after talking quietly with Greer for a few minutes, would get on the bus early. Other times they would walk back inside the house and Brice would pick him up about two hours later.
Brice liked John. He was a nice kid who thought being a bus driver was the coolest. He and his sister shared dark blonde hair and light blue eyes. John was cute as a button now but Brice knew he would turn into a handsome man. She thought Greer would look beautiful if she would only smile more often, but Greer only smiled at her brother.
After talking to Greer and receiving a hug, John got on the bus. He gave Brice a large smile as he climbed on board, and Greer gave Brice a glare that said to take care of her brother. Brice saluted her and put the bus in drive. She waited until John was buckled up behind her before she took off into the air. They had an hour before they had to start picking up other students so she asked, “What should we have for breakfast, John?”
She knew John probably already had breakfast, but he was a growing boy. She knew that growing boys are always hungry. He pleaded, “Can we have Texas flapjacks please?”
“Flapjacks it is,” Brice announced. She made sure the invisibility shield was up on her bus. Nobody wanted another tabloid incident like the one that had happened in Europe. She then aimed the bus towards Texas and let autopilot do the flying as she chatted with John.
She waited to for a highway to clear before landing the bus. Flipping a few switches, her bus looked like any other bus driving down a highway. Ten minutes of driving and they were at her favorite breakfast house. The waitress knew her and John's order and often commented on what a cute son she had. Brice never corrected her since she often said she was just taking her boy to school. After eating, they quickly picked up the kids in Mexico and rounded up her US children. When the last two kids boarded from Canada, she checked the coordinates of the school. The school was now sailing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Brice landed with ease on the school's runway and then drove to the front of the school. She straightened her cap after turning off the bus. As the kids unloaded, she pretended to be checking the outside of the bus. She was really waiting on ‘her'.
Her name was Ms. Inferno, or Alice as Brice was allowed to call her. She was the same age as Brice and drop-dead gorgeous. Her skin was color of ebony and her eyes were a bright fiery brown. She spoke with an accent, having been born and raised in South Africa. Alice often wore short skirts and low cut blouses to work. Brice normally wouldn't approve of such work attire, but when you had legs that went on for days and cleavage that would make a gay man curious, she believed you should show it. Brice knew Alice's power dealt with fire because she had made Brice's heart melt the very first time she saw her.
Brice didn't know if Alice was gay but she was hopeful. There were a few times that she could have swore Alice was flirting with her, but she wasn't sure. She timed her arrival at the school at the same time that Alice arrived in her own vehicle. She spared a glance into one of the windows of her bus to straighten her collar.
“She won't be here this morning.”
Brice swung around to look down at John, who hadn't gone inside yet. “What?”
“Ms. Inferno won't be here this morning,” John repeated. He did not attempt to give a reason why he knew or why Ms. Inferno was absent. Nor did Brice didn't ask for a reason. She merely sighed and brushed imaginary lint from his shoulder.
“You go on. I'll be here to pick you up later.”
Brice never stopped being surprised when he hugged her. His hugs were random, but very heartfelt.
While Brice watched John run inside, she noticed out of the corner of her eye her brother, Michael, walked past her without even sparing her a glance. Ever since he developed powers and started International High, he had no time for her. He didn't want any of his friends to know that his sister was a baron. He barely spoke to her when she went home to visit.
Brice got into her bus and flew home. She tried not to mope at how sorry her life was at times. Brice wanted to believe she had left all the drama of being a baron back in her teenage years, but she knew she had unsolved issues. She knew what the psychiatrist would say if she went to therapy.
“Not everyone can be gifted, Brice. It is human to be normal, and normal to be human. And often those who are not gifted will find that they are extraordinary in other ways.”
Brice hadn't discovered what those other ways were yet. She would never be as strong as her mother. The only way Brice stayed fit was to run for thirty minutes a day and that wasn't because she wanted to. Monty simply didn't know that going for a walk meant walking.
Brice was the complete mixture of her parents. Brice wasn't tall like her father nor short like her mother: she was medium height. Her mother had black hair and Brice had always assumed her father was a natural blonde. Her hair was mousy brown that she kept just long enough to tie back. Her mother had brown eyes and her father had blue-green eyes and thus hers were hazel. The only mixture of her parents she didn't posse was of their powers. If it weren't for the fact that her father, her brother, and she shared AB negative blood, she would have assumed she was adopted or swapped at birth.
When Brice got home, she found Python jumping on Monty's head. She picked up the white kitten and soothed the black puppy's head. “Now none of that, young man. Your brother isn't your personal plaything.” Brice was sure the scolding did no good. Python was always jumping or lying on Monty. Sometimes when she called them to eat, Monty would walk in with Python riding on his back. Monty was Python's but he didn't seem to have a problem with that.
After changing out of her uniform, Brice fixed lunched for all of them and sat down in front of the computer to eat her sandwich . She checked her mail first. There was a blistering email from her mother asking why she hadn't visited lately. Next was an email from the school saying she had to bring her bus in for a checkup on the twentieth. Brice then went to the Academy of the Bards and The Athenaeum to see what new stories had been posted. She was in the middle of reading a new story when Python rubbed against her leg. That was his way of saying it was naptime.
Brice took a quick nap with her pets before putting her uniform back on. She flew her bus back to the Atlantic to pick up her kids. At five o'clock, children started pouring out of the school and her bus slowly filled. John sat behind her, as always, and told her about his day. She listened to him talk about trigonometry and what his other teachers had taught him today.
She made her route, saving John for last since his stop was the closest to her house. Greer was waiting for him on their front porch. Brice thought that their two-story house could do with a coat of paint, but she supposed not everyone had enough time on their hands to paint their house yearly as she did. While her weekdays were extremely busy, she had every weekend and June through September off.
She watched in her mirror as John unbuckled his harness and grabbed his book bag out of the overhead compartment. Just as he was about to climb down the stairs, he turned to look at her. Brice had never seen such a serious look in his eyes.
“Brice? Promise me something?”
“Of course, John.”
He briefly glanced towards his sister before looking back at Brice. He said, “Promise you wont let anything happen to my sister.”
Brice blinked, surprised. She asked, “John is something going to happen that I need to know about?”
He glanced towards his sister again, who was starting to walk towards the bus. “Greer said we shouldn't talk about the future. So will you promise?”
“I promise, John, but if you know that something is going to happen where someone might get hurt, you need tell someone no matter your sister says. Will you please tell me why I need to protect your sister?”
Greer was already at the steps of the bus. “Come on, John. I got your snack ready.”
John flashed Brice a smile and said, before getting off, “Don't worry, Brice. It will all be okay now that you promised.”
Brice was tempted to call after him but one glare from Greer had her rethinking. She decided to question Greer later that night.
Brice was on her way home on autopilot when her cell phone rang. She fumbled pulling it out of her pocket and winced when she saw who was calling. She answered, visibly grimacing, “Hi, Ma.”
Marge, the strongest woman in the world, said, “I was beginning to wonder if you were dead. You haven't been by to see me in a month. Have you forgotten where we live, Brice?”
“Well I'm sure you're done with your route so you have plenty of time to drop by and see your poor, old mother right now.”
Brice rolled her eyes and said, “I guess so.”
“You guess?” Marge snapped.
Brice stifled a sigh and said, “I mean, of course I do. I'll be there in a bit.”
“See you soon, sweetie.”
Brice changed the autopilot coordinates from her home to her parents' home in New Jersey. Her parents lived in a suburb full of other superheroes. It had been hard on Brice growing up to be surrounded by so many children with powers while she had none. Now only older superheroes lived around New Jersey. The younger generations preferred to live in the cities they protected.
Brice's parent had a big enough backyard that she could land the bus like a helicopter under the invisibility shield. Brice wasn't too worried about being seen since all of the neighbors were superheroes and knew what Brice did for a living. While she walked towards the backdoor, Brice pointed her clicker over her shoulder to lock the bus. The bus beeped to confirm it was locked.
As she brushed her feet on the mat outside the door, she noticed a note on the door. After reading it, she sighed and lifted up the mat to get the key to the backdoor. Her mother had gotten an emergency call from the mayor of New York City to save a bunch of people from a collapsing building. Since her mother couldn't fly, Brice knew she had taken either her jetpack or her personal helicopter.
Brice looked around the kitchen until she spotted the cookie jar. The cookie jar was always filled with her grandma's cookies that tasted like a bit of heaven. She frowned when she found the jar empty. She was searching the cabinets for the cookies when she heard her mother land in the backyard. Brice called out when she heard the door open, “Ma, the cookie jar is empty. Where are Grandma's cookies?”
Her mother said as she started unbuckling the jetpack from her back, “Your father and I are on a diet, so no cookies.”
Brice turned to look at Marge. She noticed her mother had a few more gray hairs since the last time she had saw her. “Please, Ma, Dad is as big as a toothpick and you're not much bigger.”
“It's a health diet. We need to be healthier.”
“Sure,” Brice paused for dramatic effect. “So where are the cookies?”
Her mother frowned at her before saying, “In the rice cake box.”
Brice searched for the box as her mother took the jetpack to her parent's secret lair under the house. She was munching happily on a cookie when her mother came back upstairs in her gardener's outfit. Marge said, “You can help me weed.”
Brice shook her head and said, feigning sadness, “Sorry, Ma, but I can't get my uniform dirty. Do you know how much dry-cleaning cost these days?”
Brice snickered as Marge gave her a dirty look before walking out to her garden. She didn't know why her mother even tried to garden. Marge didn't have a green thumb. She had a black one.
Brice ate another cookie as she listened to her mother gossip about her neighbors and scold her for not finding a good woman to settle down with and give her grandbabies.
Marge said as she pulled out weeds, “You know Snowplow's daughter is home from Antarctica….”
Brice interrupted her, “First of all, no, Ma! Don't even think about setting me up. Second, what was Noel doing in Antarctica?”
“Oh she was undercover in some supervillain's gang and she just busted them all.”
“Good for her.”
Brice didn't like the look on her mother's face. She was planning something. Then she heard a familiar voice.
“Mrs. Johnson? Where are you?” A voice called out from around the house.
Marge gave her daughter an evil grin before calling out, “In the backyard, Noel.”
Brice groaned and she turned around just as Noel came around the side gate. Her groan changed into a gasp at the woman who stood before. Noel had grown up since she had last seen her years ago. Her white hair flowed down her shoulders and her body had curves that would make an artist cry. When Noel smiled at her, Brice thought her heart had stopped.
Noel said, “Hello, Brice. It's been awhile. That uniform looks good on you.”
Brice's tongue was frozen and her gaydar started ringing. Then her mother pinched her leg. “Ouch. I mean, thank you. You look good, too. I mean, your outfit looks good.”
Brice wanted to bury herself in her mother's garden. She was so embarrassed.
Noel smiled at her again before turning her attention to Brice's mother. “My mother said you had something I needed to get?”
Marge smiled, “Yes, I have her casserole dish. Brice why don't you go inside and help her find it? My hands are dirty.”
Brice flashed her mother a glare before turning to smile at Noel. “Sure.”
As Noel and herself walked inside, Brice turned around and said, “By the way, Ma, you just pulled out a flower.”
Brice smiled at her mother's curses as she led the way into the kitchen. She could hear Noel chuckling. Brice started looking under the counters, trying to think of something to say.
Noel broke the ice, “So how have you been, Brice?”
Brice was so surprised by her voice that she slammed her head against the top of the cabinet. She swore silently as she covered the back of her head with her hand.
“Ouch. You okay?” Noel asked, concerned.
“Oh yeah. I'm fine.” Brice said. She then muttered under her breath, “Except for my pride.”
Brice finally found a dish that looked like a casserole dish and pulled it out. She stood up and asked, “Is this it?”
“I think so. Thanks, Brice.”
Noel took the dish from Brice's hands and Brice gathered her courage. She took a breath, “Would you like to go out for a cup of coffee sometime? You know, to catch up.”
Noel said, “Sure, that sounds good.”
Brice felt so relieved but just as the knot in her stomach was loosening Noel said, “But you should know I'm seeing someone. So it's not a date.”
Brice felt like smashing her head against something. She tried to cover her embarrassment. “Yeah, sure,” Brice tried to recover. “It's just a catch-up cup of coffee.”
Noel smiled at her and turned away to walk out the door. Before reaching the door, she turned back around and said, “Could you not tell your mother about me seeing someone. She'll just tell my mother, and I haven't told my parents about her yet.”
“Of course,” Brice said.
Noel smiled at her again, grateful. She then walked out the backdoor and said goodbye to Brice's mother. When Marge walked into the kitchen, Brice was banging her head against the table.
Marge said, “Oh no, you screwed it up, didn't you?”
Brice said, “No. I asked her out for a cup of coffee and she agreed.”
Marge beamed, “Well that's great. Did you get her number?”
“How could you ask her out and not get her number?” Marge cried.
Brice shrugged, suddenly very weary. Marge sighed, “Well don't worry. I can get her number from her mother.”
“No rush,” Brice muttered. She then said, “Well Ma, I got some errands to run before I start picking up my night-owls.”
Marge held out her cheek for a kiss, “Well stop by for dinner sometime. I know your father and brother would like to see you more.” Following Brice outside, she said, “And don't worry about Noel, I'll get her number for you or give her yours.”
“Okay Ma. I'll talk to you later,” Brice said as she climbed into her bus. Her mother stood back as Brice started the bus and flipped the invisibility shield on. Brice then raised the bus in the air and headed home.
“I doubt Noel would ever want to date a baron like me,” She muttered. She did perk up at the fact that her gaydar was working fine.
When Brice got home, she loaded Monty into the bus to ride into town for supplies. Python didn't want to go this time. She talked to Monty as they drove down the mountain. “You know I think it's time I built you guys a room of your own. You are going to get too big to sleep in the bed with me. What do you think?” Monty just sat there with his tongue sticking out and his tail wagging.
It was an hour drive into town in a regular car, but it took Brice five minutes. Brice thought about John, Noel, Alice, her family, and Greer on the drive. After she had picked up dog and cat food, along with her own groceries, she stopped by Arby's for dinner. She gave Monty part of her roast beef sandwich with the agreement that he didn't tell Python. She thought about John, Noel, Alice, her family, and Greer on the drive back to her house. When she got home, she put out food for Monty and Python before having to rush back out to pick up her kids.
Her first pick up was Greer. She did a random thermal scan of the area to make sure nobody was hiding in the marsh waiting for her to land. She saw nobody so she landed. Greer appeared on the front porch after a moment, and Brice watched as she hugged her brother goodbye. Brice noticed Greer was dressed in all black, again.
She opened the door as Greer walked towards the bus. She greeted her with a smile, “Hello, Greer.”
“Whatever,” Greer grumbled before heading to the very back of the bus, where she always sat. Brice waved to John before taking off.
It was a fifteen-minute flight to the next student and Brice wondered if she should question Greer about what John had said. She called out, “Greer?”
“What?” Greer replied, almost wearily.
“Umm,” Brice hesitated, unsure how to phrase her question. She went with the blunt option. “Why would your brother ask me to protect you?”
“What?” Greer repeated with more vigor.
Brice could see Greer looking at her through her rearview mirror. “Why would your brother ask me to protect you?”
“I'm sure it's none of your business.”
Brice said, getting angry, “The welfare of everybody on this bus is my business. You are my business, my job.”
“Your job is to the drive the bus so why don't you just do that.” Greer snapped.
Brice said nothing else but she brooded the rest of the drive. After picking up her other kids, she got the coordinates for the school. It was now underwater in the Indian Ocean. After a quick flight at sonic speed, she drove straight into the water off the coast of India. That got a few shrieks from some of the boys. She was a little reckless when she was angry.
She quickly switched to submarine control and piloted the bus towards what could only be described as a bubble on the ocean floor. She had to pilot the bus into a water-filled portal outside of the school, which closed after she got inside of it. The water drained out of the portal as she switched over to regular bus mode and she drove the rest of the way into the school. The boys unloaded first, since they sat closer to the front. When Greer got to the front of the bus, Brice slammed the door shut and stood up. Greer was an inch taller then her, but Brice knew with her mother's temper she looked bigger than she was.
“Sit,” Brice ordered.
Surprised, Greer sat. Brice glared at her, “I don't care what you think of me but you will tell me what I want to know. Why did your brother ask me to protect you?”
“I told you it was none of your…” Greer started.
“Greer,” Brice growled. Greer was actually a little afraid of the look in Brice's eyes, but she didn't show it. She finally said, “Look, I don't know what he meant. We both have premonitions, but not always the same ones. Even if I did know, I probably wouldn't tell you. It's best not to meddle with the future. It messes with the balance.”
Brice snapped, “Screw the balance. Like I told your brother, if you know that someone's going to get hurt you should tell someone. Adults should do everything in their power to prevent it. You need to act like an adult.”
Greer jumped up and shouted, “You know nothing about dealing with the future! Don't try to tell me what to do with my powers, baron!”
Brice felt like she had been slapped. Greer was right, what did she know having powers? She sat down in her seat as Greer forced the door open with her telekinesis. Greer started storming off the bus. Brice said quietly, “I promised to protect you, Greer, and I mean to keep my promise.”
Greer must have heard her because she hesitated for a moment before she stormed off inside the school.
Brice barely had the energy to wave at Ms. Alice Inferno, who walked in front of her bus. Brice briefly thought Alice was either switching to E time or making up for that morning.
Soon, Brice was home. She shrugged off her uniform and stood under the hot water of her shower for a long time. She wondered why something an eighteen year old kid said to her hurt so much. She thought once again about going to therapy but she knew what the doctor would say.
“You are reflecting your feelings towards your brother on these two children. The little boy is how your brother used to be. He adored you and looked up to you. Now your brother acts the same way to you as the girl does. He does not often interact with you. When he does talk to you, the conversation is forced and never goes well for either of you. You want the girl to like you just like you want your brother to like you.”
Brice tiredly put on some pajamas, set her alarm clock, and plugged her cell phone up to charge overnight. Monty and Python must have sensed she needed some love because they snuggled extra close to her that night. The last thought Brice had before falling asleep was that she didn't think her imaginary psychiatrist was right.
Brice jerked awake at the sound of her phone ringing. She reached over Monty to answer it, “Hello?” She asked sleepily, her eyes blinking at the bright light her phone was emitting.
“Hello, Brice? This is Noel. I got your number from your mother.”
Brice sat up a little to look at the clock. Brice fell back on her bed, “No offense, Noel, but it's one in the morning.”
“Hmm, I know but I really would like to take you up on that cup of coffee. How soon can you pick me up?”
Brice frowned, tiredly. She repeated, “It's one in the morning.”
Noel said, “I know, but I really, really want to go out for a cup of coffee. How soon can you pick me up in front of my mother's house? Bring the bus, I think it's sexy.”
Perhaps it was something in Noel's voice, but Brice knew this was no longer about java. Something was wrong, but Noel didn't want to talk about it over the phone. Brice said, standing up, “I can be there in fifteen minutes.”
“I'll be waiting,” Noel said before hanging up.
Brice threw on a tee-shirt and a pair of jeans before heading out the door. She broke the sound barrier getting to New Jersey. She lowered the bus onto the street in front of Noel's mother's house. She spotted Noel running out of the house and barely had time to open the doors before Noel jumped inside.
“Take off,” Noel ordered.
Brice did as she was told. She waited until they was a mile off the ground before she turned to Noel. “What in the hell is going on?” Brice demanded to know.
Noel said, “International High has been taken over by several supervillains.”
“What? How do you know that?” Brice gasped.
“I received a distress call from a friend of mine at the school before she was forced to surround with the rest of the teachers.”
Brice reached for the bus's phone, “We've got to alert everyone.”
Noel stopped her. “No, you can't. Don't you know what will happen if the parents knew that their children were in danger? We're not just talking about any type of parents, we're talking about superhero parents. They wouldn't wait for negotiations, or even think logically. They'd rush to save their kids.”
“But only a few of them would be able to since most don't have the location of the school,” Brice argued. She paused, thinking, before saying, “That's why you called me isn't it? You needed someone who knew the location.”
“Yes, Brice. I need your help to save everyone at the school. Will you help me?”
Brice thought of the promise she made John. She said with absolute certainty, “Yes.”
“Maybe we could wake my parents?” Brice offered after a moment of silence.
Noel gave a brief laugh, “No offense, Brice, but this mission needs something a little more tactful then your mom's usual charge-in-and-beat-up-the-bad-guy routine.”
“True,” Brice admitted. “But my dad's a shape shifter and knows the school. That would come in handy.”
“Yes, it could be handy but it still leaves too much room for error. It's best if I go in alone. I've been trained for these types of missions,” Noel stated firmly.
Brice sighed, “So what do you want me to do?”
“First, take me to this address so I can pick up supplies,” Noel said, handing Brice some coordinates on a slip of paper. “And I'll tell you the plan on the way.”
Three hours later, Brice was flying the bus to the middle of the Pacific. The school was floating on the surface but she knew that the whole complex could submerge with the flip of a few switches. As she started to land, she received a call on the radio.
“Bus 3, what are you doing here so early? Over.”
Brice replied, “The bus has been making a rattling sound so I wanted to take it over to the shop and let the technopaths work on it. Over.”
“The shop is closed due to an explosion earlier. You should go get something to eat and return on time. Over.”
“I would, but I'm also low on fuel. I need to pull into the station and then I promise to leave and get some breakfast. Over.”
There was a pause before the reply came. “Copy that. Over and out.”
Brice could practically feel the bad guys' eyes following her as she pulled up to the station. She wondered if they would try to abduct her as she got out of the bus to pump fuel into the tank. She heard the soft click of a latch opening and tried not to pay attention to the fact that Noel was sneaking out of her bus. There was a safety latch that opened underneath the bus. As Noel climbed out through it, no one watching from the school was able see her since the latch opened up behind the rear set of tires.
Brice had made sure to pull up to the second pump, since it apparently had an underground tunnel that led to the school. Brice had only learned that fact moments ago from Noel. A few more soft sounds let Brice know that Noel was safely in the tunnel and that Brice was alone.
Brice really was low on fuel since Noel made her drive around the world a few times in case someone was monitoring how much fuel she pumped. Noel had also made her stop back at her house to change into her normal uniform. Brice got back into her bus after filling her bus up and flew away. She waited until she was about fifty miles away before pulling out the device Noel had given her.
The device was a little black box with one simple red button on top. Noel had told her to drive at least forty miles from the school before pushing the button, because that was how far the school's radar reached. Feeling the moment was rather anti-climatic, she pushed the button.
Brice had asked, “What is it? An emergency beacon?”
“No. It's pretty complex to explain, but in layman's terms it's going to cloak the bus from the school's radar,” Noel explained.
Brice looked at her weirdly. “Then why don't we press this button now and fly in there unnoticed in the first place? And I thought the school had the top radar system in the entire world?”
Noel sighed, “They do.”
“Then why make a device that makes the system useless?”
Noel snapped, her patience running thin, “For situations like this!”
Brice closed her mouth and kept her eyes on the sky after that. She didn't want to piss Noel off anymore then she already had.
Noel sighed after a moment and apologized, squeezing the bridge between her eyes, “I'm sorry I snapped at you. I'm just worried about my friend and everyone else. And the reason why we don't just sneak in now is because they are all on high alert. They're just waiting for something to happen so we're going to give them something. You driving up and then driving away will cause them to relax, slightly. They will think they handled a situation perfectly and that no one knows that they have taken over the school yet. They'll drop their guard a little which will give me the upper hand.”
It had made no sense to Brice, but she wasn't trained for these kind of events either. She was simply trained to drive the bus. The most dangerous thing that had ever happen while driving before was escaping heavy fire from a few terrorists. She proudly escaped with only one bullet hole in her bus.
Brice took a deep breath before pushing the button and doing u-turn midair. While checking to make sure her invisibility shield was on, she headed back to the school. She flew towards the back of the complex and parked behind one of the storage buildings. She would have parked behind the gym, but Noel had said that's probably where they were holding everybody.
Brice knew she was in for a wait. Noel had told her to wait an hour before sending out a distress message. Brice knew she should wait, but she had the eerie thought that things weren't going to go as planned. She pulled out her cell phone and typed up a text message. She programmed her phone to send it in forty-five minutes before hiding the phone under her seat.
If Brice didn't know she was a baron, she would have wondered if her power didn't include premonitions. Not a split second after she had hid her phone, a man dressed in black walked out the back door holding a laser gun to a bound student's head. He shouted, “Turn off the invisibility shield, open the door, and come out with your hands on your head.”
Brice couldn't believe people still used that line as she did as the man said. She then was ordered to get onto the ground and put her hands behind her head again. As she did a person also dressed in black came out of the building and clipped a pair of glowing blue cuffs on her.
Brice knew what the cuffs were. They were designed to imprison supervillains by nullifying their powers. Anybody with powers, who was cuffed, would feel drained of all their energy and was left with barely enough strength to turn their head. She figured that's what the bad guys were using to keep the students and teachers in check. When the cuffs were placed on, Brice made herself go limp.
Brice allowed herself to be pulled up and tried not to groan loudly or move when she was punched in the stomach. It wasn't a hard hit, but it did hurt. Peeking through barely opened eyes, she saw her attacker was a woman. The woman smirked at her. “Did you think we wouldn't notice you coming back to the school? Were you going to play superhero, you worthless sidekick? What's your power, huh? Can you can make your toes grow?”
The woman's partner laughed while he held up the weak student, also in blue cuffs. Brice fell back on the ground when the woman punched her face. She almost passed out, more from hitting her head from the fall than the woman's punch. Brice could hear the woman asking questions, but she didn't think she could answer her.
Brice felt herself being drug somewhere by the back of her shirt. After a few minutes, she was propped up against a wall. Her face was slapped, lightly. “Wake up, bus driver. Yoyo, take the cuffs off of her,” A male voice ordered.
“But boss, what if she attacks us?”
“She's a bus driver! What dangerous powers could she have?”
“Okay, boss,” Yoyo replied reluctantly.
When Brice felt the cuffs unlocked from her, she slowly opened her eyes. She blinked for a few times and realized she was in the principal's office. She only knew this because that's where she had her interview to get her job.
Brice couldn't tell who the people around her were. They were all dressed in black outfits with ski masks over their heads, like the ones outside. Brice did figure the person with gold stripes on his shirt was the boss who spoke earlier.
“Reader, concentrate on her and tell me if she lies. Now, bus driver, I'm going to ask you some questions,” The gold-stripped boss stated.
“Let's start with easy questions. What is your name and occupation?”
Brice knew she was good as dead. If she lied, the boss would know it. She could only tell the truth and pray he didn't ask the right questions. “My name is Brice and I'm a bus driver.”
“She tells the truth.”
“Why did you come back when you were told to fly away?”
Brice thought quickly before saying, “I knew something was up by the strange way the person over the radio was acting.”
That wasn't a lie and Reader stated so. Brice hadn't truly believed the school had been taken over until after she had finished talking to the person over the radio.
“Did you send out your bus's distress signal?”
Brice almost let out a sigh of relief at his question and said, “No.”
“Have you alerted anyone about what is going on at the school?”
“No,” Brice said. She hadn't alerted anyone yet. Her phone wasn't going to send the message until later. She tried not to hold her breath as Reader spoke, “She tells the truth. She's just a pathetic bus driver hoping to play superhero, boss.”
“Alright. Put her with the others,” He dismissed.
Brice put up a little show of struggle before the cuffs were put back on her. She made herself go limp again. She felt someone pick her up and she was tossed over his or her shoulder. After a few minutes of walking and she was dropped against another wall. As Brice's head painfully bounced off the wall behind her, she wondered if she was going to have brain damage after this was through. If they survived she thought as she let her eyes open slowly.
She was in the gym, and the floor was covered with cuffed students and teachers. Some were propped against the wall like her while others were laying flat on the floor. A student was lying near her feet, looking at her. Brice knew the student would be glaring at her if she had the energy because the student was Greer. Brice looked up and surveyed the room again and noticed there were only two guards near the door, looking bored.
She couldn't help but jump as her name was shouted. Brice looked around but didn't see any one who was able to talk, let along shout. Thinking again about the guards, she quickly looked to up to see if they had seen her jump, but they were busy talking to each other.
“Brice, it's Noel. I'm talking to you inside your head. I'm also overhead in the air ducts.”
Brice didn't recall Noel being telepathic, but when she was younger she didn't hang out with any of the other children living in her neighborhood.
“How in the world could you allow yourself to be captured? Why couldn't you do what I told you to do? All you had to do was push the red button twice, fly back to the school, and call for help in an hour,” Noel shouted at Brice inside of her head.
Brice tried not to wince but she argued silently, “You said to push the button once!”
Noel snapped back, “I said twice!”
“You said once!”
“Whatever! Look, I programmed my phone to send a message to my parents in about twenty and hit it inside the bus. What should we do until then?”
Noel sighed, telepathically, “I don't know. My plan involved you being captured later. If you pushed the button once, that bought you ten minutes of time. Two clicks would have gotten you twenty minutes.”
Brice's eyes widened, “You set me up! I could have been killed!”
“Well, you're not dead so stop worrying about it,” Noel said, nonchalantly.
“And to think I wanted to have a cup of coffee with you,” Brice grumbled in her head.
Noel laughed, “You couldn't handle me, Brice. The only person who can is my girlfriend.”
“Well I hope she keeps you on a short leash,” Brice retorted. “Hey, back to the dangerous situation at hand, I'm only playing weak here. These cuffs have no effect on me. I can free some of these students.”
“The guards would see you if you moved too much, and they would notice if someone's cuffs weren't glowing blue.”
Brice argued, “What if we were able to release everybody at once? They could overtake the guards at the door and you and the teachers could take down the bad guys…”
Noel said, “That would be lovely but how are we going to uncuff everybody at once?”
Brice looked at Greer and said in her head, “The girl at my feet has telekinetic powers. I don't know how strong she is, but you could ask her if she could undo all the cuffs at once after I undo hers.”
Noel said, surprised, “This idea might just work. You'll have to pull her closer to you, on one side. That way you'll block the view of her undone cuffs. However, we should wait a while so that we know reinforcements are on the way. What time is the message going to send?”
Brice glanced down at her watch and said, “In about fifteen minutes.”
Noel mused, “So, it would take at least fifteen minutes before others started showing up. That will give me enough time to talk to everybody I need to. In fifteen minutes, Brice, unlock her cuffs.”
Brice's head felt lighter now that Noel was out of her head. She looked at Greer, who was now looking at the ceiling. She watched as Greer's eyes slowly widen and then slowly turned to look at her. After a minute, Greer nodded weakly at Brice. Brice nodded back.
The minutes passed slowly for Brice. Just as she was about to reach for Greer, Noel popped back inside her head to say, “It's time, Brice. Once Greer unlocks everybody, the teachers are going to attack the guards. I've selected a few seniors to help fight, but I want you to keep everybody else in the gym and lock the doors. Don't open them again until I tell you to.”
“Okay,” Brice said. She quickly glanced at the guards and saw they weren't looking. She reached over and pulled Greer beside her by Greer's shirt. Even cuffed, she was able to reach the two buttons on the side of each cuff and push hard. Someone affected by the cuffs could never summon enough energy to push the buttons hard enough.
A soft click and the lack of a blue light let Brice know she had succeeded. She could see the energy quickly returning to Greer. Greer closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Brice looked around the room to see blue lights blinking out. Before she could blink, there was a bright flash. The next thing she knew, a teacher was standing over the pair of unconscious guards. Brice looked up to see Noel dropping down from the ceiling.
Brice stood up with everybody else but as she was reaching to unlock her cuffs, another pair of hands beat her to it. She looked up at Greer and smiled, “Thanks.”
Greer shrugged as she tossed the cuffs to the side. Greer opened her mouth to speak, but she was interrupted.
“Brice, come here,” Noel called from across the room.
Brice made her way through the crowd of upset students to where Noel stood with the teachers. Brice smiled as she saw Alice was among the teachers. Alice gave her a teasing smile back.
Noel glanced between the two of them before saying, “We're going now, Brice. Lock the doors and don't let any of the students out. Also don't let anyone in until I'm inside your head.”
“Great, I so enjoy having you there,” Brice quipped. Alice chuckled as Noel glared at both of them.
“Let's go,” Noel ordered.
Brice watched as the teachers rushed out the doors, along with a few students, and closed the solid steel doors after them. Brice looked down at the door handles and realized she didn't know how to lock them. She had no key to put into the locks.
Brice whirled around to look at all the students looking at her. Brice cleared her throat before calling, “Greer? Come here, please.”
Greer made her way through the crowd and Brice leaned close to whisper in her ear, embarrassed, “Could you… ah… lock the doors with your power?”
Greer snickered but Brice heard a set of clicks to know Greer had done as she asked. Brice smiled her thanks.
Brice then looked around at the students, who appeared to be restless, and asked, “So how did this happen? Do you know?”
Greer shrugged, but a tall Asian boy stepped up. He said, “I think some of them shape shifted to look like students. They got on a bus and were able to walk right into the school. Then all hell broke loose. Villains were just everywhere.”
“Thank you,” Brice said.
Brice jumped as a large explosion was heard. She could hear fighting in the hall way and she prayed the doors would hold. Greer said, softly, “The gym were made to withstand a nuclear explosion. We'll be okay.”
Brice looked at her, flabbergasted that Greer had spoken freely. Greer blushed a little before looking away. There was a moment of silent tension between them before Brice said, “Well at least it happened on E time and not W time.”
Greer nodded firmly. Greer hated the thought of her brother being in danger.
A thought hit Brice and she asked, curiously, “Do you think this is what your brother meant? He said it would all turn out okay.”
Greer glanced at her. “Maybe,” She replied. “If he said it would be okay, then it will be.”
Brice nodded as she looked around again. The students looked more restless by the minute, but she was sure the fighting would be over soon.
Brice didn't know just when she noticed the faint dust coming in through the cracks of the doors. When she did notice, she knew she had noticed too late. Before she could cry out a warning, the dust formed into the woman a few feet from away from Brice. It was the woman who had punched her earlier. She was holding a evil looking gun, and she looked pissed. She pointed it at the closest person to her which happened to be Greer.
Brice didn't have power of super-speed, so she wasn't able to snatch the gun out of the woman's hand or whisk Greer and herself off to safety. She was only fast enough to step in-between the gun and Greer.
Being shot was the most excruciating thing Brice had ever experienced. Whatever kind of device she had gotten shot with made her veins feel like lightening bolts were shooting up and down them. She could barely hear people calling out her name. When she realized one of those people were inside her head, she managed to whisper, “Open the door.”
It turned out that if someone in the room had to be shot by Duster, the supervillain, Brice was the best candidate. It also turned out that the weapon she shot was only a dart gun. The serum in the dart was what caused the pain. The said serum was used to execute supervillains found guilty of the most horrible crimes. It flowed through the blood, destroying all the mutated cells it came in contact with. Since all of the genes in superheroes, supervillains, and even sidekicks were mutated, it destroyed all their cells. If Greer had been shot, she would have died. However since Brice was a baron, she had no mutated cells. The only reason she felt pain was because the serum caused great pain in anybody it was injected into.
Brice sat on a stretcher as a paramedic looked her over. She now felt only a few sparks of pain every now and then. The man finished and said, “You'll be fine. A good night's rest will make you feel much better. I would like you to go to the hospital and get your head examined though. Just to be on the safe side.”
Brice heard a muffled sound and turned to see Greer standing near by, trying to cover her laugh with a cough. Brice shot her an annoyed look as the medic chuckled. “Just to check for a concussion. You did say you were hit on the head a lot today.”
Brice conceded and watched the paramedic go check on the other injured. She looked around and saw her parents talking to some military official. Her mother had exploded in anger when she had found her daughter in withering pain on the gym floor. If Duster hadn't already been taken away, she was sure Marge would have broken Duster in two. Brice was surprised her mother didn't go find Duster and break her in half anyway. After having her parents worry over her for a while, she was grateful when they were finally called away.
Brice saw Greer inching closer out of the corner of her eye. Brice patted the place beside her on the stretcher and was half-surprised when Greer took the offer.
Greer looked down at her hands for a moment before meeting Brice's eyes. “Thanks,” She said softly.
“And I'm sorry I called you a baron earlier.”
“Don't worry about it. Being a baron saved my life today. It also helped save all of us for that matter,” Brice said.
There was a comfortable silence between them as they sat watching worried parents come pick up their kids. Brice heard that school had been canceled until the next day at least, to repair all the damage done to the buildings. Then Brice noticed Noel and Alice walking towards her and Greer, arms around each other.
As Alice flashed Brice a brilliant smile, Noel smirked, “I'm sure you have already met my girlfriend.”
Brice could see out of the corner of her eye that Greer had an amused look on her face. “Of course we've met. How are you, Alice?”
“Better now that it's all over and everyone's safe. Noel told me about all that you did, Brice. You were very brave.”
Brice blushed when Alice leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. Greer chuckled at how red Brice turned.
“And thank you for setting us all free. You have a great gift for telekinetics,” Alice said after kissing Greer on the cheek as well. Greer stopped her laughing and blushed alongside Brice. Noel laughed at their plight.
Noel then said inside Brice's head, “Can you do me a favor? Promise you wont tell your mom that I let you get captured without me warning you ahead of time.”
“Of course I won't tell my mother how you let me get captured by supervillains without giving me any warning,” Brice said aloud with a smirk.
Noel glared at her as Alice and Greer gasped and then turned glares on her. Alice gasped, “You let her get captured? She could have been killed!”
“She's fine and so is everyone else! And I only did it to save you!” Noel replied fervently.
She then added belatedly, with a growing sheepish look, “And everyone else.”
Alice's glare softened a little but said, “Still, I can't believe you did that. It's not right to risk one life for others. It starts out where you kill one person to save a thousand, but it . Next time it will be five, then ten, then a hundred people who die and then... Noel, it's never worth it in the end.”
Noel said, lowered her eyes, “I know. I just need to work on working with others.”
Alice gave her girlfriend a long, pointed stare until Brice thought Noel would wilt into the ground. Then Alice pulled Noel into a hug and kissed her forehead. “Let's go home.”
After saying their goodbyes, Brice watched them walk away, a dark hand holding a pale one. She remarked, to no one in particular, “They make a good couple.”
Greer nodded. She then said what Brice was really thinking, “Her kiss was really …warming.”
“Oh thank God,” Brice said in relief. It felt like Alice's kiss had sent a wave of warmth through her. “I thought I really did need my head scanned for thinking that.”
Brice spotted her mother and father walking towards her. Morphous asked, “Ready to go to the hospital pumpkin?”
“Ready for long lines, hospital gowns, and big needles?” Brice quipped. “Sure, lets go.”
As she stood up, she turned around to look at Greer. She said, “Since I don't think they'll let me fly for a day or so, you'll have to find a ride with another bus driver.”
Greer nodded again. Brice was about to turn away when she stopped and said, “Or you could ride with us if you wanted.”
Marge moved to Greer's side and gave her a one armed hugged. As Greer winced, Marge said, “Of course you can ride with us, dear. As if we would let you take the bus home after a day like this. Now, Mark, where did you park the helicopter?”
“I don't know, sweetie. You flew.”
Marge shrugged as she started walking towards the parking lot, “I'm sure it's around here somewhere.”
“Are you sure you didn't leave the invisible switch on Ma?” Mark asked, slyly. Marge ignored him.
Brice whispered as she walked beside Greer, who was rubbing her shoulder, “Sorry about that. Ma forgets her strength sometimes.”
Greer chuckled as they followed Brice's parents. Brice whispered again as her mother finally found their helicopter, “I hope Dad flies. I can't stand any more bruises today.”
“I heard that young lady,” Marge called as she got into the pilot's seat.
Greer was smiling when she got into the back with Brice. Brice had always known she would look more beautiful when she did.
In the next adventure of Brice Johnson, Bus Driver:
Brice has a new best friend, a new girlfriend, and a new pet. One of them will betray her.
Return to the Academy