Rain pattered against the window to Katrina Gawain’s bedroom. Blue light from the computer illuminated her harassed face, dark rings under her eyes darting between a blank document and a Wikipedia article on Benedict Arnold.
“You know Wikipedia’s not a great source for — ”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m just using it for the bibliography at the end,” Katrina grunted while pasting a link into her Works Cited to later clean up.
“I see,” the deep voice sighed, a blue light blinking on her speakers in time with the voice. Sitting on Katrina’s desk was the metallic helm of the Nightmare, which much to her mentor’s chagrin, she had hooked up to her speaker system.
“I don’t know if I can do the Nightmare thing tonight to be honest. I gotta finish this essay,” Katrina said as the clock pushed ahead to 6:56.
“Katrina, I think the stakeout tonight is a little more important than essay on Benedict Arnold.”
“I know that, but I need to keep my grades up,” Katrina said, straightening her posture and rolling her chair in closer, keyboard against her chest. “Dad’s already noticed I’m falling behind.”
“Yeah. And if I slip too far down, he could ground me or something — and then there won’t be any Nightmare adventures at all.”
Frowning, Katrina turned to the speaker, silently hoping that the blue light would flash once again, but it remained black. Rolling her eyes, she turned back to the screen. “Sorry, I don’t want to guilt trip — ”
“No, it’s okay. I get it. I was as young as you were when I started this.”
Smiling in relief, Katrina shoved away from the desk and swiveled to face the speakers eagerly, folding her hands into her lap, like a kid waiting for story time.
“You don’t have to go out tonight, it’s fine,” the First Nightmare said in an oddly warm voice.
Eyes drifting off to the window, Katrina frowned. “Well now I feel all weird about it — Shoot, y’know, tell ya what — I’ll gather all my sources now, right? Aaaaaand…tomorrow I’ll finish it during Power Block.”
“C’mon, it’s fine. You’re a 15 year old girl, going out even just once the whole year is plenty honestly.”
Now it felt like she was getting spoiled.
“I don’t like the idea that — someone is going to get hurt tonight because I am making a bibliography for a paper I am just going to get a C on.”
Getting out of the chair, Katrina walked over to the window she often snuck out of, leaning against it and watching the drops splatter against the glass.
“I like being Nightmare, y’know? I like helping.”
Once again, nothing but a faint hum from the speakers and yet another disappointment. Bowing her head in frustration, Katrina looked back to the computer desk to see a shadow bent over her computer. Yelping in fear, she quickly loosened the grip on her chest and groaned.
It was just The First Nightmare. He had remote activated his control over The Suit and put the whole thing together while she was distracted.
Without skipping a beat, The First Nightmare scrolled through pages of information quickly. “I’m pretty familiar with a lot of this material. What if — ”
Propping an elbow on the back of the chair, Katrina smirked. “ — I go out on the stakeout and I talk you through my essay ideas while — “
“ — I put it together and look for better sources.”
A taste of victory sliding across her tongue, Katrina smiled. “Now that sounds — wait — you’re not allowing Wikipedia?”
“No, I used Wikipedia once to figure out how to fight a supervillain and it ended…poorly.”
Katrina raised an eyebrow, hands falling to her hips.
Fingers still click-clacking away, The First Nightmare’s helm turned over its shoulder, a tiny voice poking out of his lips.
“Don’t be like me.”
Then, swiveling in the seat, The First Nightmare turned the monitor to face Katrina to reveal the Wikipedia entry on the man himself.
benedict arnold was a poopoo face and defiled his nation
Katrina rolled her eyes and stared into The First Nightmare’s visor. It shrugged in return and swiveled back into place, Katrina laughing the second they were facing the computer.
“Sounds fun. I’m excited,” Katrina said while strolling across the room.
“I want you back by 10 so we can proofread together and get you to bed in time.”
Face reddening at their sudden warmness, she slipped her bathrobe over her shoulders. “What if something comes up? Like um— the stakeout, what if tonight’s the night?”
“Tonight might be the night, but you’re bound to help out with something before that, and I need you to rest easy on whatever that is, okay?”
Katrina opened her mouth to respond when her father, Lucius, shouted “Supper!” over from the kitchen. Raising her voice, she shot back. “In a minute!”
Firing a whisper off to The First Nightmare, palming a hand to her cheek, trying to emulate their warm tones. “I’ll get out of here in a half hour okay?”
“Don’t worry about it. Take your time.”
Katrina smiled and stepped out of the room.
Finally breaking its one track view of the computer, The First Nightmare cast a quick glance over their shoulder to check that they were alone in the room. Typing in google.com, they searched for Benedict Arnold.
Scrolling through a sea of complicated looking articles, The First Nightmare shook their head and went back to the top, begrudgingly retreating to the Wikipedia page.
Which still read:
benedict arnold was a poopoo face who defiled his nation