Lesson 2: Join Forces with Other Heroes
“You two are back a bit early,” our Villainology teacher, Porcupine—named for the retractable porcupine quills covering most of her body—remarks as Dog Girl and I burst into her classroom at Spark Hero Academy. “How did your practice stakeout assignment go?”
“Actually, that ‘practice’ turned out to be for real,” Dog Girl says. “That’s what we came here to tell you.”
I get right to the point. “What she’s trying to say is, while we were at the library, we met this villain who calls herself Lexicona.”
Porcupine’s reaction is not as dramatic as I expected it to be. I mean, I guess I shouldn’t have expected too much since nothing ever really seems to surprise her, but she could at least look a little more concerned. But she just raises her eyebrows. “Really?”
“You know who she is, right?” I ask.
“Of course I do, Catgirl. Every superhero has at least heard of Lexicona. She’s one of the most notorious supervillains in the world. How did you two manage to run into her?”
Dog Girl and I take turns explaining how we encountered the evil librarian and then accidentally let her slip away from us.
“Don’t be too hard on yourselves, girls. You did great for your first encounter with a villain,” Porcupine assures us.
“But she told us about her plan,” I object. “Well, she didn’t tell us what it was, but she did say that no one would be able to stop her. So we know it has to be something huge!”
“I appreciate your concern, but I wouldn’t be so sure,” Porcupine says. “Lexicona is the type who likes to brag, but hardly ever actually does anything to harm the city. And the few times we actually did face her down, she was pretty easy to defeat.”
“So you’re basically saying she’s all bark and no bite?” Dog Girl clarifies, looking pretty pleased with her chance to use a dog-related cliché.
“Exactly. Trust me, letting Lexicona get away isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and it definitely won’t be the last.”
One of my catlike ears flicks. I’m just not convinced.
I guess Porcupine notices my agitation, because she says, “Well, if you’re really worried about it, you can talk to Principal Miss Spark. She might be able to help.”
“Great! I’ll get on that right now.” I stalk out of the classroom with Dog Girl on my heels.
“You know, I think this is only the second time in my life that I’ve ever been to a principal’s office—super or otherwise,” Dog Girl remarks as we sit in the chairs just outside the door to Principal Miss Spark’s office.
My ear flicks as I tease, “Really? That’s pretty surprising.”
Dog Girl turns to stare at me, looking slightly miffed. “Oh yeah? How so?”
I grin slyly. “I don’t know—you just seem like that kind of person, with your habit of doing things without thinking them through first and just overall general obnoxiousness.”
Dog Girl huffs. “I may be ‘obnoxious’ to some people” —she looks pointedly at me— “but I am definitely not a troublemaker. Besides, if I was, I wouldn’t be attending a school for superheroes!”
I smirk. “Not a troublemaker, huh? What was your first principal’s office visit for, then?”
Before she can reply, the door opens and the fiery-red-haired woman who goes by the supername Miss Spark—and is the founder and principal of Spark Hero Academy—pokes her head out. “I hear you girls have something to tell me?” she says.
We head into Principal Miss Spark’s office and take a seat in the chairs in front of her desk, repeating the same thing we told Porcupine.
“Lexicona’s up to something,” I say, my tail lashing back and forth. “She told us herself. We just have to figure out what it is and stop her!”
Just like Porcupine, Principal Miss Spark doesn’t seem as concerned as she should be for someone who just found out that two superheroes-in-training had an encounter with a “notorious supervillain” who has some big, evil plan. She just folds her gloved hands on top of her desk and says, “Well, we’ll look into it.”
“That’s it?” Dog Girl blurts, apparently thinking the same thing I was—which is kind of scary if you ask me. “Lexicona’s planning something huge, and we don’t have any idea what it is, and all you’re going to do is ‘look into it’?”
The principal sighs. “I’m not trying to underestimate her. But the thing about Lexicona is that while she is a well-known villain, she’s not exactly a big threat—contrary to what she may have told you. It’s why you haven’t learned much about her in Villainology class. We tend to focus on teaching you students about the more dangerous villains, like Arachnis and the Arsonist and Lava Lord. Compared to them, Lexicona is a pretty minor supervillain—in fact, she barely qualifies for the status of supervillain at all.”
“But what about her big plan?” I say.
“She probably just told you that to get your attention. She enjoys stirring up trouble, and she loves to brag, but her plans are actually pretty easy to shut down. The rest of the league and I will keep an eye on her, though, just in case. You girls don’t have to worry about it. Now, you should probably be getting back to class.”
Everything Miss Spark said agrees with what Porcupine told us, so why am I still not reassured?
“You okay, Catgirl?” Dog Girl asks after we leave Principal Miss Spark’s office.
“Why wouldn’t I be okay?”
She points to me. “Your ears are flattened, and I noticed your tail always whips around like that when you’re upset.”
So she’s able to read me now—which is another scary thought.
I sigh. “Principal Miss Spark sounded so confident that Lexicona’s not a huge threat, but I still feel like something’s not right. I mean, we both saw what she’s capable of. She hypnotized those people! Whatever she’s planning has to be bigger than Miss Spark—and Porcupine—thinks it is.”
“I hate to say this, but I’m with you on this one,” Dog Girl says.
Oh no. Now we’re agreeing on things? Has the world gone insane?
I push the thought aside as Dog Girl continues, “Superheroes or not, the adults are doing what adults do—underestimating what we say, just because we’re kids and they think they always know better than us.” She smacks a fist into her palm. “So it looks like we’re going to have to take matters into our own paws!” She grins at me. “See what I did there?”
I roll my eyes. “What is it with you and the puns?”
Dog Girl gives me a playful nudge. “Come on, Kitty, you know you love them.”
“You don’t know what I know,” I quip back, fighting a smile. “And what did I say about calling me Kitty? Anyway, what are you saying?”
Dog Girl turns to look at me with an all-too-familiar determined gleam in her eyes. “I’m saying we can’t just leave things up to the adult superheroes. They’re not going to take the Lexicona issue as seriously as we do. It’ll have to be up to us to figure out what she’s up to and stop her!”
“But how?” I wonder. “Where do we even start?”
“Good question.” Dog Girl furrows her brow in thought. As a few students walk past us, her eyes light up. “I know! First, we summon the team.”
* * * * *
At lunch, Dog Girl and I sit at the table with our usual group of friends: Creature Girl, Flying Fox, Bird Boy, Dolphin Girl, and the Snake. The Creature Kids, we like to call ourselves, since each of us has some kind of animal superpower. Or, in Creature Girl’s case, multiple animal powers.
“Saw you guys coming out of the principal’s office earlier,” Bird Boy tells us, unwrapping a granola bar. “What was that about? You two never get in trouble.”
“We weren’t in trouble,” I reply. “We had to tell Principal Spark about what happened during our practice mission for Villainology earlier today.”
“We met a supervillain,” Dog Girl jumps in.
Our friends gasp. “For real?” Flying Fox says.
“Ooh, who was it?” Creature Girl asks, leaning forward. “Dr. Gene? Arachnis? Detrimento?”
I shake my head. “Nope. Lexicona.”
Creature Girl, Bird Boy, Flying Fox, the Snake, and Dolphin Girl stare blankly at me. “Who?” they all say in unison.
Dog Girl bursts out laughing. “That’s exactly what I said!”
“Yeah, and that’s exactly what you looked like, too,” I tell her, grinning.
I turn back to the rest of our friends to explain. “Lexicona’s this evil librarian who has the power to use books to hypnotize people and stuff, and she told us she has some kind of plan that we won’t be able to stop. We told Porcupine and Miss Spark about it, but they both basically dismissed us because Lexicona’s supposedly ‘not a big threat.’” I make air quotes with my fingers. “And that may have been true before, but Dog Girl and I saw what she can do. And we’re pretty sure that whatever Lexicona’s plan is will be worse than what the adults are expecting.”
“So we’re deciding not to sit around and just let them handle this,” Dog Girl jumps in. “We’re going to find out what Lexicona’s up to and thwart her evil plans! And Catgirl and I are going to need all the help we can get, so…who’s with us?”
“Oh, I am so in,” Flying Fox says, spreading her huge bat wings out behind her.
“Me too, of course!” Creature Girl chimes in.
“Same,” the Snake agrees.
Bird Boy and Dolphin Girl nod their heads.
“Yay, our first real mission!” Flying Fox squeals. “And all together, too. It’s like we’re becoming a legit superhero team!”
“So now that we’re all on board, what next?” Bird Boy asks.
They all turn to look at me and Dog Girl.
Dog Girl flushes slightly. “Oh, um…I actually haven’t thought that far yet,” she says sheepishly.
I shake my head, smirking a little. “Of course you didn’t. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.”
I turn back to the others. “Let’s all meet up later after school. We’ve gotta come up with a plan.”