Ricky Parker sometimes felt left out.

M&M was insanely smart. She memorized dictionary definitions just to show off.

His other sister was an amazing artist. His brother could patch together anything—from a new set of web-slingers to a car radio—with a room full of junk and a rainy afternoon.

Ricky wasn't really good at anything—not really good, not good enough to receive any sort of special recognition. (Plus, the whole superpower thing . . . but, better not to dwell on that.)

Even so, he was the baby of the family, which gave him an advantage in getting his way.

"Mr. Ben, can you turn the radio on?" he asked, leaning forward in his seat.

Ben jabbed at the power button. Music filled the car.

"Can you change the station?"

Ben did so.

"Can you try to find—"

Ben performed a preemptive poke at the Search button.

"No, not that one, the other one," Ricky said. "Go back, please?"

"I like this song," Yancy put in.

"Not this one!" yelped Spider-Girl. "Continue scanning!"

"Try to find some Taylor Swift," Flurry piped up from the back seat.

"Go back!" said Ricky.

"Ooh! Colbie Caillat!" yelped Flurry.

Ben set his jaw and swung his huge forefinger at the radio. His whole arm was lost in a tangle of wires and buttons, and the music vanished in a hiss of static.

The kids were silent.

"I liked that radio," Yancy said in a sad little voice.

With a screech of tires, the car pulled into the parking lot in front of the Vault—a prison designed especially for the incarceration of supervillains.

"You three stay here," Ben said, getting out.

"I want to come," Yancy said suddenly.

"Why?" Spider-Girl asked disbelievingly.

"Please, Daddy?" Yancy asked.

Ben paused in the middle of dragging Flurry out of the backseat.


"Yancy . . ." Ben groaned.

"Please . . ." Her wide blue eyes were fixed on him, and he suddenly remembered why he had taken her along on this trip.

Quality time.

Plus those tapes, and Franklin's dream, the one he'd almost forgotten . . .

We had to fight one of your kids . . . one you lost. A little one.

How on earth could anyone lose their kid? How could anyone be that careless?

"Daddy?" Her voice snapped him out of it.

"Fine!" he said, dropping Flurry and picking him up again.

"Then I'm coming too!" Ricky yelled.

"No, you're not," Spider-Girl snapped.

"Yes I am!"

"You can wait in the lobby!" roared Ben.

I need to announce that I will be taking a break from for a while. I have other, more pressing matters to attend to. I hope that I'll be able to return to writing this story sometime, but I don't know when that will be.

Thank you for reading.