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I. Am. Such. A. Moron.



Blockhead, dunce, nitwit, simpleton, cretin. Whatever word you wish to use.

Beside me, the Merb was mumbling about mind worms and glaring at me suggestively. If my own scientists hadn't showed me concrete proof that mindworms were an old wives' tale, I might have believed him. It turns out that mindworms aren't worms at all, but an extremely rare bacteria found in warm freshwater called N. Fowleri. I did not take pleasure trips to a lake (besides, it wasn't like there were lakes all around Cyclonia; actually, bodies of water are fairly rare in the Atmos), so it was more likely that the stupidity of my subordinates was beginning to rub off on me.

That was a disturbing thought.

Would I slowly sink into the darkness of stupidity, stop thinking things through, forget the higher maths and complex crystal manipulations that I loved? Would I, like the poor bloke in that novel Flowers for Algernon, be able to observe this happening? Although there was no way I was going to mourn some lab rat. Or mouse. Whatever.

UHG! Stupid, stupid hormones! I could feel them, affecting my brain, causing my thoughts to go off on long, irrelevant tangents. Usually I was in better control.


Take a deep breath, be in control. I am Master Cyclonis, and I shall always have the upper hand. There was no need to panic. Mind over matter. Mind over body.

What was wrong with this situation?

I didn't like the idea of going Sky Surfing, something I would not be perfect at, in front of an enemy prisoner. Actually, I did not like the idea of such a frivolous and dangerous waste of time anyways. However, this was worse than usual because I needed to look perfect, infallible, invincible in everyone else's eyes. Seeing me struggle, fall down, or look like a fool would kill my image.

I was Master Cyclonis. I could simply decide not to go Sky Surfing, couldn't I? But it wasn't that simple, because I had dragged the Merb against his will out of his cell to take me. If I didn't follow through, it would seem exactly what it was—I would be chickening out.

So I would go through with it. It couldn't be that hard, after all, if the Storm Hawks could do it, then I could master it. It was only a simple matter of velocities, acceleration, angles, force, mass, momentum—I could calculate everything using the complex formulas I learned in Physics and Calculus.

Math—easy, simple. There was only one right answer to every problem.

Sky Surfing—nightmare. Get me away from it! Falls in the same wasteful, stupid category as vacations and watching movies and eating ice cream (pumpkin pie is an exception to my dessert rules).

When Sky Surfing is turned into a giant math problem—I was back in my element.


You see, if it hadn't been for the stupid hormones, I would have been able to come to this conclusion without talking myself through this. I would have been spared so much unnecessary panic.

Actually, if it wasn't for the hormones, losing control of my big fat mouth for a minute, I wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.


I am so doomed.

I know I always say that, but I'm always serious. I'm just more serious than usual this time.

Master Cyclonis has mindworms. It's the only explanation. I recognize the symptoms—erratic behavior, doing things completely against character, talking to herself, just acting all…weird. Definitely mindworms. It has to be.

And she's hanging around me!!!!! Why me!?! The mindworms are out to get me; she's determined to infect me.

There is no way Cyclonis in her right mind would just ask me to go Sky Surfing with her. That's like…

Well, when other teenagers ask each other to go Sky Surfing, it's called asking them out on a date.

Ew. That is so wrong. I think the mindworms have infected me already. Cyclonis…and me…on a date? Someone put me out of my misery, please. Let my eminent demise come a bit more quickly, just don't subject me to such psychological torture.

Torture, humiliation. That was what this was all about. Of course. She wanted to get me so freaked out that I would make a fool of myself, and fall off the board. Maybe she wouldn't even give me a parachute and I would plummet into the Wastelands and burst open like a water balloon being dropped from too great of a height. My blood and guts and gore would splatter all over the heated rock, sizzling and grilling until not even charred bones remained.

I felt a bit calmer. Nothing like the vivid mental image of your own corpse's dust to wipe away pictures of you and Cyclonis holding hands, or…God forbid…kissing


Better to think about her hands.

She does have such pretty hands, with those long, precise white fingers. Now that I think about it, I don't mind at all that she's so pale. Some people may consider it ugly, but I actually think it's kind of beautiful. It's as if she's made of porcelain, like some fragile china doll. In medieval times, aristocratic ladies used to powder their faces to achieve skin tones like hers.

Although, most of those ladies died from the lead poisoning in their powder.

Hands. Just think about her hands. Yes, nothing weird about thinking about her hands.

Gah! Who am I kidding? Thinking about her at all is weird! But her hands…they're so exact, and so pale.

Pale white. That's why I like them so much. They're like a clean, fresh, blank sheet of paper.

No dirt.

I've never seen her dirty. Actually, as a scientist, she's probably just as paranoid about keeping things sterile as I am. I would never have to worry about her being contaminated.

No, the only thing I would have to worry about with her would be her losing her temper and frying me with a crystal in some fit. Which is why I wouldn't have to worry about her at all because I have decided to stay away from her. Yep. Definitely.

Like that's going to work when I'm stuck in her dungeon.

Why me? It's like I'm doomed for the most nasty death imaginable.

She continued forward into the huge Talon training arena—I guess that's one advantage to owning a palace—and hopped on a skimmer. Then…she…she…she motioned for me to sit behind her.

As in, right next to her, having to hold her waist for support, behind her. As in no way.

She glared at me, and I was reminded of my priorities. Better behind her than in a coffin in front of her. Besides, one of us would be on the board soon, so it wouldn't be for too long.

When the guys did it, they always wore their bathing suits, but as it was Sky Surfing, one never really gets wet, so we wore our usual armor. I have to say, I was relived that she didn't force me to change. Plus, it would be really strange, hard for me even to imagine—no! not going to think it!

Cyclonis in a bikini.

Too late.

Not that she'd look bad in one at all, it was just too…weird to think about.

I am so doomed. She's infected me. I have the mindworms. Because mindworms are the only explanation for me actually thinking about Cyclonis in a bikini. There are so many things wrong with that statement that I don't even want to think how wrong I am. Wrong, perverted, not-the-way-it's-supposed-to-be, wrong.



"Get on the board and show me how it's done."

"Yes, your majesty." Gosh, the girl was pushing. Thank goodness Finn had forced me to try it when Junko was off eating lunch and Aerrow was too busy. I might be able to not fall off now, due to this training.

"Finally admitting to the inevitable? It's nice to hear you address me with my title."

"I was being sarcastic."

"So was I."

Damm. How does a guy respond to that? With the silent treatment, I decided. If I still had my ear corks, I would have plugged them in, too.

I got on the board, and it actually wasn't that bad. Sky Surfing isn't particularly hard as long as the driver is good. With Cyclonis at the wheel instead of Finn, I found I was actually enjoying myself.

How strange. I was actually sort of sad when my turn was over. That's certainly never happened to me before.

Of course, when she got on, she did it perfectly. After she got the hang of it (which was in about three seconds), she began experimenting rocking side to side, even going as far as doing a backflip on a curve.


Although I have to admit, it was impressive.

The weirdest thing was, I could swear she was smiling, almost like she was actually enjoying it. Hah. Enjoying it. Like she even had feelings at all.

She might be human, but she's not a person. She's a monster of the worst kind.


I was so busy watching her that I forgot to turn. The wall of the areana closed in on the skimmer, and I didn't even have time to gasp before the world exploded around me, and everything went black.




The next thing I remember is her pale face staring down at me. Her expression, hard to describe, but…

She was not happy.

Well, that's a nice place to end.

Next chapter is back in the present. Review please!