Today we welcome Hayden Thorne on the Masks: Evolution Blog Tour. Evolution is the sequel to Rise of Heroes, and carries on the story of teenage Eric, his boyfriend Peter, their friend Althea, and all the superhero and supervillain action Vintage City can handle.
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED
Blurb: Strange things are happening in Vintage City, and sixteen-year-old Eric seems to be right in the middle of them. There’s a new villain in town, one with super powers, and he’s wreaking havoc everywhere and on Eric’s life. The new superhero who springs up to defend Vintage City is almost as bad, making Eric all hot and bothered, enough so that he almost misses the love that’s right under his nose.
Peter is Eric’s best friend, and even if he does seem to be hiding something most of the time, he finds a way to show Eric how he feels in between attacks on trains, banks, and malls. The two boys decide to start dating, much to the chagrin of their other best buddy, Althea, who has a terrible crush on Peter and a secret or two of her own to keep.
As the fight between the Devil’s Trill and Magnifiman picks up, Eric’s relationship with Peter almost ends before it begins when Eric finds out about Peter’s special talents, which might just rank Peter as a superhero in his own right. When the Trill takes an interest in Eric, Peter and Althea, along with Magnifiman and Eric’s normal, middle-class family, all have to work together to keep Eric and their city safe.
Excerpt: Althea and I were nearly dead from grease overload by the time we stepped back out into the sun. On our way out, we passed a huge mirror, and I saw how we looked after our Feminist Date with a Gay Boy. We looked pretty gross.
We could barely walk, and we could barely talk. It was more like a blind stagger and an exchange of grunts and burps as we made our way through the crowds of shoppers. Eventually we just gave up on conversation and simply tried to walk off our fat-saturated lunch. I didn’t have any words for how disgusting we both were.
It was somewhere near the main square when everyone, and I mean everyone, stopped in their tracks and looked up. Some people shouted and pointed up. Some screamed. Others hooted and cheered.
Magnifiman flew above us, stunning and heroic even at a distance, with a faint whoosh as he plowed through Vintage City’s industrial air, his arms outstretched, his features hard and determined. Beside him, Peter—Calais—bounded, looking strong and graceful as he spanned huge distances with his powerful leaps. He’d fly sometimes, but I figured leaping massive distances worked better for his superpowers. I frankly had zero idea how the hell that worked, but that was the only thing I could come up with. Whatever. Pride swelled in my chest at the sight, and I couldn’t tear my eyes off him.
“Something’s up,” Althea noted, a tremor of excitement in her voice. She fumbled through her bag for her tricked-out cell phone, which was the communication device she always used for superhero purposes. She refused to tell me where she’d got it, but I suspected she and Peter had worked together on it. “Damn, I hope I didn’t miss a call from Peter.”
“Hey, look!” I said as I grabbed her shoulder.
I pointed at the sky. Several seconds behind Peter, a third figure flew, obviously following them. It was the fire girl, and she was flying without a hitch. She wasn’t literally on fire, but she did leave a thin trail of flames in the air behind her. They’d probably flicker for a second or two before fading away, but they looked pretty impressive all the same.
“They finally hooked up with her!” I cried, thrilled.
“Uh, I don’t think so,” Althea said. “Looks like she’s trying to run—or fly—after them.”
“Oh. Well, I guess it’s good that she finally mastered flight.”
The girl flew in a confident line across our line of vision, adjusting her course slightly when she neared the old clocktower—one of the few authentically dated buildings in the
city. She swerved up and above it, clearing it just nicely. It wasn’t till a moment or so after she’d disappeared from view I realized I’d been holding my breath the whole time, waiting for a disaster to happen in her wake.
“Yeah, looks like she did,” Althea said. “Good for her.”
Sure enough, from somewhere in the rooftops, a distant, high-pitched yelp broke through the air, followed by the sound of something metallic and old getting knocked over. It was like a pile of old tin platters getting dropped on the floor.
Althea grimaced when sounds of the mishap gradually faded. “Okay, then. I guess not.”
“I wonder how it’d look once all the superheroes come into their powers. When they all fly or leap like that as a unit. I think they’ll look amazing, just awesome.” My chest tightened at the thought. I fought off the jealous pang and tried to focus more on Peter and how lucky I was to be with someone as fantastic as him.
Several moments after the trio had vanished past the rooftops, excited shoppers chattered while going back to what they were doing. Althea turned her attention to her cell phone and frowned. Then she shook her head as she snapped it close and buried it back inside her bag.
“Nope, nothing,” she said. “Whatever’s up, it happened only now. My communicator’s on standby just in case.”
Althea let out a little screech of delight when her bag suddenly gave off a muffled buzz.
“Action! Yes!” She dug her hand back inside and pulled out her communicator, flipping it open and staring, wide-eyed and practically salivating, at the tiny screen. “Gotcha. Hey, listen, Eric, I gotta go. The Puppet’s on the loose, in broad daylight this time, and—”
A low boom cut through the downtown area, bringing conversation and movement to an immediate stop. People looked around and even above them, baffled.
“Damn it,” Althea breathed, then pushed her way through the crowd, craning her neck as she scanned the area for only God knew what. I followed her before she vanished from sight.
“Wait!” I called out, but she didn’t seem to hear me.
We wove our way through the busy sidewalk, ignoring another low boom that broke through the growing confusion. That time, I felt the ground shake. So did everyone else, for that matter, and people cried out in alarm. Some froze where they stood, and others scattered, searching for cover. All around, people ran inside shops for safety. Traffic slowed, with some cars and cabs coming to a standstill. Within seconds frantic shouts mingled with car horns.
“Althea, where are you going?” I called out.
“Leave me alone!” she retorted as she expertly dodged frantic shoppers. “Get out of the way, Eric! I’ve got something to do!”
She pushed her way to an ATM and immediately “accessed” it by pressing her hand on the keypad, her fingers splayed, her face hardening as she connected, or her mind connected, with the system. Behind her people continued to hurry in their panic, while another low boom rent the air.
This time it was louder, and the ground moved under my feet. I staggered back a couple of steps with a gasp of surprise. I saw a few people—mostly seniors—lose their balance from the tremor and topple over, nearly getting stepped on by frightened passersby. Thankfully there were some people who jumped in to help them.
I glanced back at Althea. The keyboard under her hand glowed faintly, a far cry from the first time I saw her access an ATM. Maybe this was a sign she had much better control of her powers now. She looked no more like a statue to me, standing before the machine that way, completely oblivious to what was happening around us.
“Girl, what’re you doing?” I hissed. “You’re blowing your cover! Get yourself to a private computer or something!”
When she didn’t respond, I took on the role of her sidekick, standing close and keeping an eye on people. Pretty much making sure no one saw her doing what she should be doing behind closed doors. To my relief, the entire downtown area was too busy being in a state of panic that everyone ignored two pizza-filled kids standing still and off to the side as people stampeded around them. I balled my hands into fists just in case, ready to jump anyone who’d try to get at Althea.
“Shit!” she cried all of a sudden. “Damn it!” She pulled her hand away from the keypad as though she’d just been burned.
She staggered back a step or two, eyes wide and blank. Althea blinked rapidly several times, and the look of shock on her face gave way to anger. She cussed up a storm again, and without another word, pushed me aside and ran back through the crowd.
I could only guess she was hurrying to get back home, where she could safely access her computer and be better connected to whatever it was she was trying to link herself to. Like what she should’ve done in the first place. Sheesh.
Police sirens broke through the noise, the shrill wailing growing ever stronger…