It started with the list.
Well, actually, it kind of all started with Mr. Davenport dragging me and Chase to Centium and having us shack up with superheroes. Ever since Skylar and I started sharing a room, I swear she takes every opportunity to show me up.
Like the race. Yeah, yeah, no one really won because we both cheated, but she still saved the baby. She made it so even if I'm faster than her, she still wins, because she gets the moral high ground.
Skylar Storm takes up permanent residence on the moral high ground.
It's like everything she does is perfectly orchestrated to prove that she's the superhero here and I'm just the bionic freak. Even before she got her powers back she kept beating me up, pinning me to the floor just to prove she's superior.
And don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled she got her powers back. She's my friend and I feel happy for her. I swear.
It's just that it felt, well, validating to watch her be so awkward and clumsy with her newly recovered powers. Yeah, she broke a bunch of my stuff (I'm still trying to find a new purse as cute as the one she ruined), but I still got to be the more experienced one, the one with finesse and a mastery of my abilities. It was like being a mentor again. I got to help Skylar get the hang of her powers.
Only she did get the hang of them— fast. And then immediately surpassed me.
Don't get me wrong. She really is like the sister I never had. She's my best friend, whatever else anyone says. But it's not fair for some alien girl to swoop in and be better than me at everything I do.
So. The list. AJ's Elite Force Breakdown. You know, I'm sure I wouldn't have been satisfied without being number one.
But then sometimes I think I would've been fine being number four, provided Skylar was number five.
And this thing was a bad idea from the start. It made Chase feel left out being at the bottom. It made Oliver… well, actually, I don't really care how Oliver feels. The worst thing was, it vindicated Skylar's whole superiority complex. She doesn't just think she's better than me now, she knows. She's got empirical data.
She was grown in a pod to become a hero and I was genetically engineered to commit petty crimes and serve terrorists. I don't think she'll ever let me forget that.
I almost think I could handle it if she only thinks she's better than me in one way, but that's not the case. She's all morally superior and she's got more powers than I do. She could punch a guy into the sun and also take the time to educate and reform him.
It's damn annoying.
And I know I've done some dumb things in my life. Smashing my chip, trusting Troy West. I have a sizable mistake roster. Longer than Skylar's, I'm sure. So yeah. I took the space rock.
I just wanted to see the look on her face when I showed her up.
I had the pyramid open. I was just about to touch the roc, just about to finally win, and what does Skylar do? Blasts me away from it. Like I'm no better than Roman and Riker.
And it hurt. She helped me up (again with the better powers and the moral high ground) and then I got put under the microscope. Everyone wanted to know what was going on in my head. When I barely even knew.
I gotta say, I did appreciate Kaz, Oliver and Skylar giving me and Chase some space. The truth is, we may be a team, but Chase is my brother. He knows me better than any of them, even Skylar. But the fact of the matter is, now everyone knows how pathetic and petty I actually am.
Maybe Skylar already knew.
The boys went to go help AJ and Skylar stuck around with me, and that's when I started feeling sick. My head swam, my hands felt numb. My knees didn't want to hold me up anymore and suddenly, without really meaning to, I was lying on the floor.
Skylar was flitting around and panicking and all I could think was that I finally rattled her. I finally surprised her. And also, with a little twinge of bitterness, I kinda liked that it was her fault. And she'd feel bad about it.
It's like when you're a kid and you get all sulky and mad at your parents. Like, "Oh, when I'm dead, then they'll be sorry!" That's how I felt watching Skylar put the pieces together.
I was maybe about to die and I was just happy that it meant Skylar would feel bad.
And then she surprised me. She started rambling on about the Arcturion and its healing capabilities, and then the next thing I knew she was holding onto me with one hand and reaching for the rock with the other.
I know it just makes me sound even more petty and pathetic, but… I was furious. She was gonna save my life. And I'd never be able to live it down.
"I'm not letting you do this," I told her, and it was 90 percent concern for my friend and, admittedly, 10 percent about me not wanting to be just another grateful citizen saved by the amazing Skylar Storm.
She surprised me. She actually glared at me, like she was mad, and said, "And I'm not letting you die."
It wasn't about her. It was, actually, about me, and I didn't even have to orchestrate it to be that way. She just genuinely, wholeheartedly wanted me to be okay.
I didn't see that coming.
When the force from the Arcturion traveled through her to me, it felt phenomenal. It kind of reminded me of the time we fought Krane, and Adam, Chase and I linked arms and coordinated our chips to blast him. That connection, that sense of family and partnership… it was invigorating.
Skylar saved my life, and not just because she's a hero and I needed saving, but because she's my friend and she cares about me. Again. Didn't see that coming.
And then came the kicker— I had superpowers. Thermal touch, proton rings… I wasn't just back in action, I was better. Not better than her, better than I was before.
Then Skylar told me she lost a few of her powers, and the sanctimonious holier-than-thou image I had of her in my head abruptly dissolved. I thought she would be angry. I thought she would feel like I wasn't worth it, like she saved my life only to suddenly become less special.
That wasn't the case. She looked at me with those big honest eyes and admitted, "I would have given up all of my powers to save you." And she meant it.
This whole time I thought she was reveling in being better than me. But as it turns out, she didn't even think of herself as better. She's weird and outlandish, like me, and she just wanted to fit in. She just wanted another girl to hang out with.
I've got superpowers now, but that's not really the point anymore. Skylar might be more powerful than me, and she might have more of a watertight code of ethics than I do, but none of that stuff matters. What matters is she cares about me, and I care about her.
Turns out I've had a bionic chip on my shoulder this whole time, all for nothing. Skylar doesn't actually want to compete with me. She wants to help me.
And I don't know how I got so lucky.