Black And White

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-06-02
  • Publisher: Spectra
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Two acclaimed romance authors team up to give readers a pair of superheroines struggling against each other, a world trying to define them, and their own inner turmoil.

Author Biography

Jackie Kessler is the author of the Hell on Earth series, a sexy, funny dark paranormal about a succubus-turned-stripper who ran away from Hell (devilish antics ensue).

Caitlin Kittredge has been an unrepentant geek since the age of twelve, when she first saw "Star Wars." When she's not writing about super-powered dystopias, she blogs, goes to the movies, reads books and comics voraciously, collects vintage clothes, and turns her music up too loud. She lives in Olympia, Washington, with a garage full of comics and two pushy cats.


Chapter One


“The thing people seem all too happy to forget is that where there be superheroes, there also be supervillans. It makes one wonder: If the heroes went away, would the villains follow?”
Lynda Kidder, “Origins, Part Five,”
New Chicago Tribune,April 23, 2112

Heroes always need someone to play the villain. Iridium saw the truth in this when a hero tried to slip up and cold-cock her on the back of the head.

She spun around and blasted him with a strobe–nothing crippling, strictly visible spectrum, but the hero landed on his ass and started yelling. Probably “Ahhh, my eyes, my eyes!” That one was the most common.

“That was sloppy,” Iridium tsked. “Where’s your mentor? Did he go get a latte and leave you all alone?”
By her feet, a bank guard whimpered under his gag. “Shut it,” said Iridium. “It’s not like you won’t get a fat settlement in the lawsuit that you’re going to file against the bank for hazardous working conditions. Right?”

The guard considered this for a minute, shrugged as much as he could with Iridium’s disposable handcuffs around his wrist, and nodded.

Iridium turned her attention back to the vault, watching the hero stagger to his feet out of the corner of her eye. He was wearing a purple and black skinsuit–that alone pegged him as an amateur. No one in their right minds stuck with the skinsuits after they graduated from the Academy.

Well, except one, andherpicture was splashed on every piece of extrahuman propaganda in Wreck City–or, if you had to get official and euphemistic about it,Reclaimed Borough 16, for the City of New Chicago–so the junior hero could be forgiven for thinking that skinsuits were the thing.

“Turn and face me! You’re under arrest,” the hero shouted.

Iridium continued her contemplation of the vault. A triple-retinal lock. A backup deadfall bolt system. Two and half inches of tilithium steel with iocore tumblers. “I’m just gonna have to melt it,” she said, more to herself than the hero.

He took out the silver baton he’d first tried to hit her with, and some kind of Energy power turned it blue and crackling with electricity. “Last chance, bitch!”

Iridium let one black eyebrow slide up. “ ‘Bitch’? Don’t you feel that’s uncalled for? All I did was strobe you in self-defense.”

“You almost burned my damned eyes out of my head!” He was edging up on her slowly, in some kind of textbook combat stance they must have started teaching after Iridium’s time at the Academy. It made the hero resemble a colorful, deranged crab. Aside from the skinskuit, his costume had a purple face-shield and black bulbous goggles that did a poor job of hiding big, scared eyes.

“Now, see, that’s the thing,” said Iridium. “In my day, they taught us not to swear.”

The hero struck with the baton and Iridium sidestepped, then put a foot into his side, just below his last rib. There was acracklike a twig being stepped on. Oops. So maybe not exactlybelowit.

“They also taught us to guard our offhand side,” said Iridium, standing over the groaning hero. “Who the hell trained you? They should have their mentor merit badge revoked.”


“Look, kid. What’s your name?”

“Blackwasp,” he managed.

“Ouch. Sue whoever stuck you with that one. My point is, Blackwasp, that to survive as a goody-goody, you need to learn when you’re outclassed.” She turned her gaze back to the safe,pushedwith the part of her mind that saw in spectrums, and felt the light concen

Excerpted from Black and White by Jackie Kessler, Caitlin Kittredge
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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