SIDEKICK SQUAD, BOOK ONE — Jess Tran is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own…



Jess grits her teeth, going for a running start. The gravel on the trail crunches under her feet, the wind rushes through her hair, and she can taste success. This time. This time, she’s gonna make it.

The canyon is streaked with color, warm in the afternoon light; golden striations race across the signature rusty reds of the landscape. The sky is a gorgeous, impossible blue, and clouds flutter down the endless horizon, a perfect backdrop for a first flight.

Every step resounds in her body, and her heart races. Blood pounds in her ears.


One of the rarest of abilities. Heroes’ LeagueJess’ dad can fly, and her older sister inherited the gene. Why not Jess?

Why not me? I could be a hero, Jess thinks as she picks up speed.

Jess is turning seventeen in a week, and then it will be too late for her to register. She hasn’t demonstrated any powers at all, not as a child, not as an adolescent, but she’s held out hope—after all, there are a few documented , teenagers presenting much later, even as old as sixteen.

No one’s presented with any powers after seventeen.

The wind whistles in her ears, and the desert is alive with color, encouraging her on. Where the trail curves and descends, Jess keeps going forward, right for the edge where it peters off into the canyon below. Time and erosion has split the rock formation, leaving a gap of at least seven feet away between the edge and the rest of the rock cluster.

Jess doesn’t hesitate. She pushes herself forward and leaps into the air.

The desert is silent except for the pebbles that scatter from her movement and tumble into the gap far below. Jess is in the air, and for a few seconds she can taste the sky reaching out to her, welcoming her—


Jess lands hard on the other side of the gap, falls flat on her cheek. She spits dust and cringes at the sting on her face. Her body’s going to ache later.

This is the third jump she’s made today.

Jess rolls over and stares up at the sky. “All right, so maybe flying’s not going to happen,” she says reluctantly. She fishes inside her pocket for the list she made of the powers she could inherit from her parents.


magnetic field manipulation

enhanced strength

healing factor

durability/ endurance

She has a longer list too, of all the powers on file with the Meta-Human Registrar, but everyone knows that meta-abilities are genetic. If Jess didn’t inherit any of her parents’ abilities, the possibility of having any abilities drops to near zero.

Jess is covered in dirt and bruised and frustrated, and it’s unlikely that she’s ever, ever, going to be a superhero.




“Pretty sure the comic artists were all inspired by actual events.” Abby shows Jess how all the comics start with the “origin:” Lieutenant Orion finding Gravitus at the scene, Gravitus creating a natural firebreak with his earth powers, and Orion flying firefighters to safety. “There aren’t holos of these things anymore, though, not of Gravitus being heroic. I mean, there is a record of this particular fire and Lieutenant Orion being there, but—”

“They wrote Gravitus out of it,” Jess says.


Abby leans close. Their shoulders touch. Abby’s close enough for Jess to smell her shampoo—apple and cinnamon.

Abby looks up and their eyes meet; Jess is too afraid to look away, too nervous to move closer. She hangs in the moment, wondering, wondering. It’s the worst part about being attracted to girls—she doesn’t know how to flirt. Will Abby think she’s just being friendly? Should she just say it? But then if she says something, their whole friendship will change, and they only just started being close. And Jess likes that a lot. The chances that Abby is straight are high, and asking might ruin everything.

Abby’s eyelashes and eyebrows are a darker red than her hair, and there’s a faint scar running down her left cheek. Jess takes in all the details of her face so she can look back on this moment and remember—one time Abby Jones was on my bed and was this close, close enough to kiss

There’s a knock on the open door. “You girls ready for dinner?”

Jess scoots back away from Abby. As much as she likes to dream about kissing Abby, the reality is she’s not ready to find out whether Abby wants to kiss her back. Better not to risk certain rejection and stay in this realm of infinite possibility.