We put the TV on the computer view screen. A 10 foot tall Spongebob Squarepants appeared before us, singing and dancing about krabby patties.
Sumerset flipped the screen to the nearest news channel. A night-time image of a building appeared, one side of it currently engulfed in smoke and flame.
"Oh God," Sumerset said, his voice low.
"--are missing," the anchor said off-screen. "Again, if you are just tuning in, we're seeing an explosion at Morgrim Maximum Security Penitentiary--and initial reports are that several Class 3 criminals are currently unaccounted for."
"Oh, God, no," Sumerset repeated.
"Class 3 criminals?" I asked.
"Powers fall into classifications," he said. "Class 5 is the lowest--your Sharkfaces. Class 1s are the untouchables--Blink, Sovereign, maybe Arsenal on a ridiculously good day. Class 3s--well, kid, you're probably a Class 4. At best."
"And so what--some class 3 criminals escaped a prison? Why is that a big deal?"
"That's where they were keeping Scourge," he said. "Under strict lock down. No one even knew that he was there."
I thought for a moment. "He's a class 3 too?"
"Last time I saw him, maybe," Sumerset said, staring at the screen. "He might be higher, now. He had a nasty way of acquiring more power as he went along."
"So, what? I think Anna mentioned his name, once--something about him being my parents' nemesis. Disappeared in the eighties, right?"
"Yeah. Your dad threw him to the dogs," he said. "Beat the snot out of him and threw him to the Cape-Busters. He didn't take it well."
"So, he probably saw the newscast of your return," Sumerset said. "Only explanation. Too convenient otherwise. He probably broke out to get to you."
"...why? I mean, that was twenty years ago, right? Does he really think I'm the same Skull? Is he really that obsessive about getting revenge?"
"It's not revenge he wants," Sumerset said. "It's the Skull Formula."
"Scourge collects powers like other people collect those creepy hobo clown statues," Sumerset said. "He steals anything and everything he can get--technology, magic, people's powers--and uses it to augment himself. He ain't even a power, or at least, he wasn't when he first started. Everything he has--it's a result of something he did to himself."
"But all the Skull formula gives you is--"
"Strength, agility, and regenerative capabilities," Sumerset said. "That last part is important. People who drink the Skull Formula--well, girl, no one knows how old you could grow to, because nobody who took the formula lived long enough to die of old age. But nobody who ever took it aged a day past adulthood."
That was nice to know.
"So he wants it so he'll live longer?"
"That, and the rest of the powers don't hurt either," he said. "The strength and agility--well, you'll see. Once we start you on some real training."
"Real training?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "With the Scourge out there, hunting for you--you need to know how to defend yourself. And now we know what to contact Epoch about."
"Why can't I just lay low?" I asked.
"You will. You're not putting the costume on," Sumerset said. "But starting today, I'm going to show you how to really do some damage. Just in case."