Terry loved the house. For a kid who had grown up in a two-bedroom apartment, this place was practically a mansion, and as Ben had mentioned, it wasn’t just a regular house; it was decked out with all the amenities a crime-fighting teen could ever need. Ben had run through the list of what all these upgrades were, but there were so many, and the boy genius went so fast, Terry was pretty sure the only one who understood it was Kimmy.
“Who made this stuff?” Kimmy asked while they were checking out the bank of terminals Ben had called “the Hearth.”
“A lot of it’s from the school,” Ben replied. “They have loads of engineers and technicians they hire to deal with this sort of stuff.”
“Cool,” Terry muttered. He glanced over at Gwen. Even she looked impressed. Well, she wasn’t frowning anymore, at least.
“We also have some work-study programs,” Ben continued.
Kimmy snorted. “What, like you go to a secret lair? Make copies? Go on coffee runs?”
Ben and Terry both laughed. Unsurprisingly, Gwen didn’t drop her straight face.
“No, more like they hire students to work on campus projects,” Ben replied. “I’ve done a lot of tech design for a lot of teams. For example, I designed the flight suits for the Angels.”
Kimmy suddenly straightened.
“You know the Angels?” she asked.
“Yeah, they go to school here,” Ben answered, looking confused.
“The Angels. Go to school. Here?”
“Yes. I just said that.”
“Jibril, Mikail, Uriel. Those three? The most amazing superhero team in existence? Those Angels.” She was speaking uncharacteristically slowly.
“Uh, yeah?” Ben replied.
Kimmy suddenly super-sped off upstairs. Before Terry could blink, she was back clutching what looked like a rolled-up poster.
“I love them!” she exclaimed. “I have their poster!”
Sure enough, when she unrolled the poster, the three superheroes were there. All three were posing like action heroes.
Well, I guess technically they are action heroes . . . Terry thought.
“How did you get that?” Ben asked, still looking confused.
“Oh, our bags are upstairs,” Kimmy said dismissively, still looking at the poster.
Ben rounded on the terminals behind him.
“I told you to alert me if anyone enters the house!” Ben said to no one.
Is this guy crazy? Terry wondered. He turned to Kimmy, who seemed to be thinking something along the same lines. She was equally confused. Gwen didn’t react.
Suddenly the terminal whirred and glowed. A hologram flickered into existence a foot above one of the screens. It was all red and seemed to be of a woman’s head.
“Sorry, Mr. Ward. They had the entry codes and wore clothes bearing the school’s insignia,” Vesta answered mechanically.
“Vesta, that’s not the point, you’re supposed to alert me no matter what! It’s for security. And call me Ben!” he shot back, clearly annoyed.
“Sorry, Mr. Ward. I’ll endeavor to do so in the future,” the A.I. responded.
“Ugh. I swear you’ll be the death of me,” Ben muttered as he turned back to his new teammates. “Oh, um, guys. This is Vesta, house A.I., royal pain, et cetera, et cetera. Vesta, this is the team.”
“Hello, team!” Vesta chirped.
“Howdy,” Kimmy replied, amazed.
“‘Sup,” Terry said, equally blown away.
“Hi,” Gwen muttered.
“Uh, right,” Ben started. “You guys should go unpack. There’s a welcome banquet at like six that we gotta go to, so be sure to be ready.”
“OK! Bye, Vesta!” Kimmy shouted before she zipped upstairs.
“Oh, that’s gonna get old fast.” Gwen muttered before she stalked off upstairs.
“She’s fun,” Ben said sarcastically after he was sure Gwen was out of earshot.
“Pfft, yeah,” Terry chuckled before following the girls upstairs.
Terry’s room was the first door on the left at the top of the stairs. It was rather spacious in his opinion, with a single bed that ran against the right-hand wall, a desk situated under a large window, and a tall dresser off in the left corner. Sure enough, his luggage was all stacked neatly in the center of the room.
He flopped onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. He could hear Kimmy shooting around her room at top speed and Gwen muttering to herself, probably about Kimmy. He could hear Ben walking around downstairs, arguing with Vesta as he went.
I think I’m gonna enjoy my school year, he thought, smiling.