“No way of knowing,” Daniel said. “I couldn’t read their thoughts very well. I got brief flashes of what happened to their home world—which was horrible. I can see why they’d hate the people who did it, but we’re not them.”
In a low voice, Izzy said, “They were telling the truth, then. Genocide?”
Daniel nodded. “Technically xenocide, but yes. Coming here does make sense in that light. As long as we’re around, the Abominators’ former servants can’t come here.”
“Except there really are aliens who want to destroy us just because the Abominators used us as a genetic base to create their servants,” I said. “So we can’t rule out the possibility that the Hrrnna are among them, but as they said, they’re here. I suppose they might be willing to destroy all life on a planet they’re living on, but I’d do it from a distance myself.”
Haley pursed her lips. “What did the creatures that killed them look like?”
Daniel paused. “Basically human, but bigger, more muscular, and furrier.” He paused again. “And you know how your hands and feet change into claws? Theirs did the same thing, and their claws seemed to be made out of the same substance.”
Haley let out a breath, and muttered something.
I would have asked if something were wrong, but that was blatantly, painfully obvious. She’d always been sensitive about her change, and the bloodlust that went with it, but this had to be one step worse. Now she knew that it came from some variant on humanity that the Abominators had warped for their own benefit.
Probably this was the time to say something comforting, but I felt like I should wait until after we dropped Daniel and Izzy off.
Izzy didn’t wait though. “You’re not one of them.”
Haley sighed, and turned to face Izzy. “I know. It’s just… I don’t know. It’s exactly what I always thought I’d find out when I learned supers are descended from people the Abominators changed, and even though I’m not one, I’ve got their urge to hunt, and I have to live with it.”
Izzy reached out and touched Haley on her shoulder. “I know it’s not the same, but Dixie Superman was my grandfather. My grandmother immigrated from Spain, I can only guess that that’s why she was white enough for him. When she found out what he was, she divorced him, and moved to L.A., taking my father with her. You know what happened last summer. Evil Beatnik mind controlled me. Why? Because I was descended from one of the League’s enemies. For him, that was all I was.”
Izzy stopped for a moment then, her expression making her look a little uglier and a little older. If Evil Beatnik ever reappeared, he might have a reason to reconsider the wisdom of his last venture into the world.
She continued with, “I’ve been trying to get out of his shadow ever since I found that I had his powers, and how do I first use them in public? Practically under his name and in his costume.”
Taking a breath, Izzy said, “He didn’t make me act like my grandfather, but what happened was bad enough. All of my family saw me.”
She stopped, opened her mouth, stopped again, and said, “When I think about him, and think about everything that happened, I remind myself that everything he did was him, and not me.”
Haley nodded. “I… Thanks. I’ll remember that.”
We drove Izzy and Daniel back to the University of Chicago’s campus. We talked about maybe doing something fun after that, but practical considerations intervened. Haley and I needed to get back to Grand Lake, and for Daniel investigating who was trying destroy humanity on Shabbat was one thing, but going out and seeing a movie was another.
That left Haley and I driving home on I-196 north, looking out at the empty fields, and spots of snow, and talking.
“The funny thing,” Haley was saying, “is that it really doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I still worry about losing control, and doing something horrible, but not like last year. Last year I was coming off of Sean being a jerk, and his parents pulling in the police to find out how he’d been poisoned, and our relationship—yours and mine—was totally new…”
She trailed off, but started up again, barely having taken a breath.
“I just got totally worried that I might do the same thing to you even though you didn’t deserve it. I’m still a little worried, but I feel like I’m more realistic now.”
I kept the van at a steady speed. Now that we were out of Chicago’s traffic, and back in Michigan it wasn’t hard. It was even fun to be talking.
“I think so. You were really worried last year, but as I remember it, you seemed a little better even after my prom where Logan took power juice, and freaked out, and we stopped him.”
She cocked her head. “Do you think so? Maybe, I guess. If nothing else, it showed me I had some control of myself. Logan didn’t have any.”
“Right,” I said.
Haley sat up, and turned toward me in her chair. “Another topic. Do you think Izzy was maybe saying a lot less than actually happened? Because I do. I get how she might not be happy about taking on Dixie Superman’s legacy, but she seemed too… something… for it to be just that.”
I shrugged. “No idea. Maybe she’ll talk about it next time I see her. Stapledon’s next week, and—“
An alarm in the van beeped, and I looked down toward the monitor on the dashboard. Several objects were descending toward us from the sky.