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“She’s more than a piece of biotechnology?” said Sam. “Does that mean she’s really advanced or…?”

He trailed off as Mrs. Sharma whipped around.

Naomi couldn’t see Mrs. Sharma’s facial expression, but it was intimidating enough to make Sam look at the ground and say “Okay, shutting up now.”

“I mean that she’s a person, not some tool or piece of technology,” said Mrs. Sharma.

“Oh,” said Sam. “Sorry, I just thought…”

“Have I given any indication in the short time we’ve known each other that I cared about what you thought?” said Mrs. Sharma. “If I have, I did not intend to do that.”

“Um, if you don’t mind me asking,” said Naomi, “How do you know Sarah, exactly. One of the… fabs said you created them. Did you create her too?”

“I didn’t ‘create’ anybody.”

“Yes, you did,” said Angelina. “Don’t you have kids?”

Mrs. Sharma sighed.

“That’s obviously not what I was referring to.”

“I thought you did create the fabs,” said Mahender. “I thought that was part of your job.”

“As usual, you were wrong,” said Mrs. Sharma. “No one created the fabrications. It was more complicated than that.”

“Then where did they come from?” said Sam.

“They were grown from a kind of genetic template,” said Mrs. Sharma. “It’s very complicated–definitely not something I’d expect you to understand.”

“Get wrecked,” said Lachlan.

“Try me,” said Sam. “I have an IQ of 140.”

“Who told you that?” said Mrs. Sharma. “Did you take a quiz online?”

“No, I–The test was administered by a professional!”

“Quizilla.com is not a professional,” said Mrs. Sharma.

“My IQ is 152,” said Angelina.

Bullshit!” Lachlan mock-coughed into his hand.

“Wow, mine’s only 106,” said Jen. “Is everyone here but me like, a genius?”

“I can assure you the answer to that question is no,” said Mrs. Sharma.

Naomi glanced back at her friends again, but as her gaze swept across the alley beside them, she saw a dark shape duck into a shadow.

She thought about alerting everyone, but she didn’t want to alarm them if the dark shape turned out to be her imagination.

“I don’t know my IQ,” said Lachlan, “but I think we can safely estimate that it’s over 200. Quite possibly even 300.”

“And you’re calling my IQ bullshit?” said Angelina.

Naomi glanced back at the alley. Something stirred in the dark.

“Um, guys,” said Naomi.

“How do so many of you even know your IQs?” said Mahender. “I wouldn’t even know how to get a test for that.”

“My brothers and I all have IQs of 130,” said the fab with the tentacle hoop skirt.

“Guys,” said Naomi.

“What is it, Naomi?” said Mrs. Sharma.

“I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think there might be something in the shadows between those buildings over there.”

Naomi pointed to her left.

Mrs. Sharma looked over, reaching over her shoulder into her bag and removing her knife.

“How do you do that?” said Angelina. “How do you just reach into your bag and pull out the exact thing–“

Mrs. Sharma shushed her.

“I shouldn’t even have to say this,” said Mrs. Sharma, “but everyone–be quiet!”

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