Emerging Compassions

Chapter 1: The School Project

(Jimmy's POV)

Looking back on that eventful adventure, it's hard to believe all our experiences were true. Yet, whenever I think about it, my entire being shudders out of fear of what might've been. I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Cindy, saving my life & all... But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It all started one day in Lindbergh High, as any normal day would. My classmates & I had just taken our seats when Miss Fowl announced, "BRRAAWK Class, the time has come for our monthly sciiiieence project!"

Some of the kids groaned when they heard her say that, but not me! I joyfully exclaimed, "Yes! Another opportunity to conquer Vortex in my best academic subject!"

"Dream ON, Brain Boy, cuz MY project is SO gonna dominate yours!" Cindy challenged me.

"Not so FAAAAST, children! You're being assigned into groups in this particular project, according to your own preference, of course!" Miss Fowl informed us.

That's fine, I thought to myself, getting a disgusted look on my face, As long as I don't have to share a group with VORTEX! With that, I leaned over to her & stuck my tongue out at her. She just stuck hers out back at me.

Then I looked over at my 2 best friends & told them, "Carl, Sheen, you're both going to be in my group!"

"Okay," Sheen agreed, "But NOT without my Libby-licious!"

"Do WHAT?" I exclaimed, hardly believing my ears, rubbing them to make sure I heard right.

"You heard right, Jimmy! I want Libby to be in our group!" he informed me.

"Okay, Sheen," she agreed, "I'll be in yo' group, but ONLY if Cindy's in it, too!"

CINDY? Okay, my world as I knew it had officially gone crazy! Sheen just had to include Libby in our group, which she'd only do if Cindy was in it! Had everyone gone INSANE?

"Fine, whatever," I muttered under my breath. Then I firmly added, "On ONE condition!"

"What's the condition, Nerd-tron?" Cindy wanted to know.

"You let ME be in charge of our project! Otherwise, you'll have to find someone else's group to join!" I dryly informed her, my arms folded.

She gave it a few moments of thought, then snapped, "Okay, FINE!"

Then I had a thought. Wait a minute! I thought to myself, What EXACTLY is this project supposed to be about?

Then I raised my hand & asked, "Miss Fowl, what type of science project is this? Astronomy? Physics? Geology?"

"Aaaactuallyyy, it's none of those. This project is based on bioooology! Each group is to find a new or recently discovered marine species from the oceans & write a documentary on it based on what characteristics it has & how it survives its environment on a daily basis BRRAWWK," she informed us. Then she asked, "Has everyone formed their groups?"

Each of us voiced a positive response in unison.

"Good," Miss Fowl told us.

Then the bell that signalled the end of the day rang.

As we filed out of the classroom, she called after us, "Remember, children, this report is due 2 weeks from today BRRRAAWWK! And if the life form is from another planet, you get extra credit!"

We acknowledged her with generally positive responses as we made our way to our lockers.

I was currently in the process of packing up my bookbag (AKA: my jetpack) when Cindy showed up & started barking at me about how she wanted to be in charge of the project by saying, "Nerd-tron, I demand to know WHY you took charge of this project instead of me! I'm SO totally capable of being in charge, as well! There should be a perfectly good explanation as to why this is, so SPILL it!"

"As a matter of fact, there IS a good explanation for that!" I sharply told her, "When I DO let you be in charge of our projects, which is RARE, you usually don't know what you're doing, often because my inventions are involved & you usually don't know HOW to use them! Then you usually cause them to malfunction, forcing me to fix them before our lives, & sometimes the entire earth, as well, are in jeopardy! And you've NO idea how irritating that can get!"

We continued to walk out the school as she snapped, "Not to mention how irritating you putting us & the world in PERIL frequently! That's what irritates ME the most!"

"Huh, well, TOUGH LUCK, Vortex!" I barked at her, "Because my inventions usually malfunction before they actually WORK properly!"

"Okay, this fightin' has GOTTA stop!" came a familiar voice.

Surprised, we both turned around to face Libby, who'd just then walked up to us with her hands on her hips.

Then she added to Sheen who also came up to her, "Sheen, PLEASE tell those 2 to stop arguin'!"

"Just cut it OUT already!" he shrieked.

Sheen's shouting attracted Carl's attention. Then he said, "Stop fighting, already! It's gonna give me a hernia! Next, my RA-...!"

"Carl, don't EVEN bring that UP!" Sheen snapped.

"Sorry," Carl admitted.

"Seriously," Sheen asked, "What's got you 2 in a squabble?"

"All I did," I explained, "was tell her that I'D take control of our project, & she began barking at me about how she was equally capable of taking charge! Then I explained to her how, WHEN she did take charge, she'd tamper with my inventions & I'd have to fix them before they wreaked havoc on the town! And forgive ME for them malfunctioning before they actually WORK!"

"Oh, & I'M responsible for them malfunctioning! Real smooth, Nerd-bomb!" she hissed at me.

"Okay, both o' y'all, just SHUT UP!" Libby shrieked.

THAT got our attention!

"Sorry, Libby," I muttered, then whispered, "You know, SHE started it!"

"I heard that, FrankenHead! And I did NOT!" Cindy barked.

"Did TOO!" I shot back.

"Did NOT!"

"Did TOO!"

"Okay, that's ENOUGH!" Libby snapped, & grabbed both of us by our wrists & dragged us to the Candy Bar, where she sat us in a booth & laid a sheet of paper on the table. Then she handed both of us pens.

I soon found out that this was a treaty of some sort.

"Okay, you 2, sign at the bottom of the-," she began, but was cut short by a large shock wave that shook the entire restaurant.

"Okay, now what was THAT?" Libby gasped, clearly freaked out.

At that moment, the shock wave that had shaken the Candy Bar threw Carl & Sheen up against the window, then they slid down onto the ground.

I lept up & ran outside to check on them. Then I shook Carl's & Sheen's shoulders & anxiously asked, "Carl, are you okay? Sheen, can you hear me?"

Sheen sat up, rubbed his head, & moaned, "Oh, my head... What happened, Jimmy?"

"Ow! My scapula!" Carl exclaimed after sitting upright, rubbing his back.

"A shock wave from an unknown source sent you guys flying into the Candy Bar window, then you slid onto the ground. Are you sure you guys are okay?" I verified, helping them to their feet.

"Ouchies, I think so. Carl, you okay?" Sheen wanted to know, rubbing his head.

"My scapula still hurts, but I think I'll be fine," he replied.

Then Cindy & Libby came out to investigate the situation.

"You know, Neutron, Libs & I would personally like to know what caused that enormous shock wave that shook the Candy Bar!" Cindy informed me, her hands on her hips.

"Yeah!" Libby agreed, "Ya notice anything strange, King Cranium?"

I observed my surroundings & told them warily, "Not yet, but you never know who could be hiding just out of sight, just waiting to attack us with yet another shock wave or sonic boom!"

As if on cue, a strange figure came into view just near the sun, so we had to shade our eyes in order to see it, but it grew bigger with every second. I had a feeling that this strange shape was an alien ship of some sort, so I paged Goddard on my watch.

Almost immediately, he came bounding up to me, wiggling his body & barking a little bit.

"Goddard, Bino-Scope Mode!" I told him, & his eyes turned into binocular-looking things & a round screen showed what was fast approaching us. As I continued to observe it, I soon saw the pilot of the craft. It was the JunkMan!

"Oh, no!" Carl shrieked, pointing at Goddard's screen, "It's the JunkMan!"

"C'mon, guys!" I instructed, making a break for it, "Follow me! I have an escape plan!"

We ran from the Candy Bar parking lot to my place, where I luckily found my rocket sitting right outside my lab.

"Quick! To the rocket!" Sheen urged.

For once, Cindy & Libby didn't complain about his crazy antics. They were obviously too concerned about escaping the JunkMan, as were the rest of us! We jumped into it, I manned the controls & started it up, & quickly sent it flying into outer space, but not without placing tiny cameras in strategic locations so I could keep an eye on the JunkMan.

About 10 minutes later, I landed my rocket in the Moon's Sea of Tranquillity.

We had just gotten out of it & started to look around when I heard, "Jimmy! Oh, Jimmy!"

Oh, NO! I thought begrudgingly, It's Brobot! Why, that little annoyance!

Then he came out of hiding & saw us, then he hurried over to us & said, "Why, hey there, big brother! Whatcha doin' here?"

"For your information, Brobot, I'm here with my friends to hide from the JunkMan, but, at the same time, keep an eye out for him by using tiny cameras placed at strategic locations on Earth to watch his actions, the videos of which I can access through Goddard," I explained, trying to remain calm.

"Oh! Can I help?" he asked.

"Honestly, Brobot, I'm not sure if there's anything you can actually DO to help," I informed him.

"Oh," he said, sounding a little sad.

Then I told Goddard, "Goddard, Multi-Camera Mode!"

He barked & displayed a large, rectangular screen that showed what all my cameras on Earth were seeing.

Cindy walked up to me & asked, "Neutron, what is the JunkMan up to THIS time?"

"It looks like he's trying to find me, but is having no success, because I'm on the Moon!" I observed, laughing at his futile efforts.

Then Goddard's screen showed him returning to his ship & blasting off, headed in our direction!

"Gas planet, he's headed straight for us!" I gasped, then exclaimed, "Guys, get OVER here!"

Libby, Sheen, & Carl hurried over & looked at the screen, gasping at what they beheld before them.

"Darn you JunkMan! Why must you torture us so?" Sheen shrieked into space, his arms reaching towards the stars.

"Enough of your yelling, Ultra-DORK! We gotta get outta here!" Cindy snapped at him.

With that, Goddard returned to normal & hurried with the rest of us back to my rocket. I started it up & began to blast us off of the Moon.

But we didn't get far because the JunkMan beamed us up into his ship using a tractor beam.

"What do we do?" Carl yelled as we were beamed up.

"Hang on!" I hollered as we went up & into the ship.

"NOW what are we gonna do?" Libby sighed as the JunkMan approached us once we were inside his ship.