They met on the following monday - the last week before Christmas - after school, in the sports venue, the first place they could think of where they'd be comfortable. Access was free, so no one stopped them as they gathered in the bleachers by the basketball court. It hadn't snowed since last week and they were mostly dry, now.
Not everyone showed up, of course. Several of the freshmen - who didn't know Max yet - were missing, as were a few sophomores. In total, 22 Dominators were present, including Max, Sammy, Barb and Fred. Billie also counted more than 40 Extras she knew were there, although a few more might have been hidden in clothes, pockets and bags.
"What the fuck do you want?" a muscular freshman carrying his Extra like a backpack asked Max without preamble. "Why did you invite us all here? This is weird, man."
"Calm down, I'll tell you in a second," Max told him, then cupped his hands around his mouth. "Everybody gather round!"
As the others drew closer Billie sat a few rows behind, out of the way. Only a couple of them turned around to glance at her. She couldn't see most of their faces, but those she saw looked calm, curious and, for the most part, a little mocking, as if this was all beneath them. Max squatted to pick up Joe and sit him on his shoulders. His shrunken brother had recently begun shrinking even further. The diapered boy's head only just cleared Billie's knee now; it didn't reach Max's.
Billie suspected this might well be a moment for the history books, if Max and the others had their way.
"Guys and girls," Max began. "Have you kind of noticed how fucking big we are?" Scattered laughter greeted the question, as well as a few nods and grunts. "Why do you think that is?"
"Something in the food?" asked the muscular kid.
"Nah, they probably used radioactive paint in the school walls or something," said a chubby boy from Billie's class - Andrew was his name. His extra was a chubby girl his age and a quarter of his size.
"Could be a biochemical weapon," said a junior. "Something deployed by an enemy nation..."
"At our school? Don't be a moron," said muscles.
"Maybe they were testing it!"
"I've been wondering if it's just normal," a slender girl with squinty eyes said. "I mean... all the shorter people became crushers, which left... us...?"
"Close," Max said, raising a hand to shut the others up. "Over the last month the goverment has been testing on me," he continued, which was only half a lie.
Some of the others looked alarmed - or annoyed, perhaps? The junior who had mentioned weapons muttered "fucking typical," but not loud enough to interrupt Max.
"They found..." Max said, pausing a little for suspense, "a mutation of the crusher virus. A new strain that's turning us into new, superior beings. Bigger, stronger, better than the old humans!"
A stunned silence greeted this proclamation. "Er... What have you been smoking, again?" Andrew asked.
"It's real, friends." Max explained what the virus did and how it acted during their teens. "That's why they," and he pointed at the two seniors - a boy and a girl both just over 2m tall, who had yet to say a word - "are among the shortest of us. But they still made it. Anyone who seizes the opportunity can become a Dominator for life!"
"Holy shit," muscles said, looking dazed. His hand went to his collarbone, where it met those of the shrunken girl strapped to his bag.
"I don't want you to get even bigger," the girl said vehemently. "What about..." she looked around and blushed. "What about sex?"
"Come on, you guys believe this bullshit?" another girl asked. She was as tall as Max and Billie couldn't get a good look at her Extra, a smartly dressed small boy with his back to her. "Do you have any proof, asshole?"
Max rolled his eyes. "No, Vera. But they said we grow faster, bulk up faster, get brainier faster and..." he frowned. "Oh, right, we heal faster. And that there might be more."
"That checks out," said Andrew. "I broke my ankle last month. Recovery was supposed to take until the end of the year, but it wasn't even a week before I was fine."
"I used to wear glasses," said the tall girl with squinty eyes. "Around October that just went away. I see perfectly now. My eye doctor was super confused!"
Fred stood and peeled off his layers of clothing - his coat, pullover, shirt and a t-shirt he was wearing underneath, exposing a muscular, perfectly sculpted body. Far more muscular than he'd been at the beginning of the school year. Billie drooled a little. "I was stick thin just nine months ago," he said, smiling at everyone. "Like this grasshopper here," and he clapped Sammy's back.
"OK, guys," the muscular freshman said, looking increasingly more excited. "Do you know what this means? It means I'm superman-"
"It means guys in black suits are gonna show up, inject tranquilizers into our veins and disappear us to hidden black sites," said weapons junior.
"Exactly," Max said. "Or at least they'll try. It's not like they can put the cat back in the bag, but it's gonna suck for us. So we think we should start a group to protect our interests. Make a *huge* stink. If we act together-"
Several voices rose at the same time. "Are you crazy? Defy the government?"
"Our parents won't let them harm us-"
"We should go into hiding! Transfer to a bunch of other schools!" Tracy, chiming in.
"No, you fucking bitch, we should double down. If we control hundreds of Extras-"
"And who the hell put you in charge, Max?"
Max turned back to Vera and shrugged. "What do you mean? I'm the original Dominator..."
"Big fucking deal. I never liked you, just so you know. I think you're a weirdo and I don't trust you at all."
"I agree," said a guy standing beside her, another sophomore - maybe Vera's classmate? He was taller than Max and fairly muscular on top of it. "I don't like taking orders from *anyone*. If we're supers, then the strongest super should be in charge." He closed in on Max, climbing down the bleachers with big, decisive stomps. Others leaned out of the way to let him pass. Max took a step back and almost tripped. For a moment Joe wobbled on his shoulders.
Then Sammy stood and it turned out that no matter how frail you are, size gives you a hell of an advantage. He twisted his torso and his ridiculously long arm swung horizontally, his big, closed fist describing a perfect curve before striking the other guy squarely in the face. Vera's classmate flew back, slamming the small of his back on the corner of the bleacher two rows above. "Ow," Sammy said, pulling his hand back and blowing on his knuckles. "First time. Anyway, calm down, Nelson, will you? That's a good boy."
"Don't treat me like a fucking crusher, Mule," Nelson said between his teeth, struggling to sit up. There was a darkening stain on the side of his face, centered on a bleeding gash.
"I think Nelson is right." Billie watched, stupefied, as Barb stood. "What the hell happened to you, Max?" she continued.
"What... What do you mean?" Max asked, astonished.
"Like you said, you're the original Dominator. You had a head start. We all admired you and followed in your footsteps. So... why are, like, a dozen of us bigger than you now?"
"I'm... I'm huge!" Max said, blanching.
"Compared to a human, and you were tall even as a human. We're not humans anymore, remember? We're Dominators, and you're a half-assed one at best."
"Yeah, I agree," Sammy said, a little smile playing in his lips. "You haven't been doing much dominating, have you? That's why the new... the Dominator virus hasn't been working properly on you." He turned to regard the others. "Nelson's an ass but he's not entirely wrong. This is the point of no return, guys. We're turning into superhumans. Giants. We're going to rule this city one day soon, maybe more than this city." He gestured expansively with his hands, his eyes shone with excitement. "We'll have to fight for it; if we lose we'll be lab rats. But if we win all of mankind will be our Extras. Think about it. All of them! Everything will be ours. We won't have to work. We'll never lack anything!" The others gaped at him, more than a few faces alight with the strength of his dream. "But we need a leader who is *fully committed*. No hesitations. No doubts."
"I'm committed," Max said. Sammy looked at him and suddenly Max was blushing. "I'm serious. I'm a god, you little fucker."
"Then what's that?" Barb asked, pointing at the bleacher next to him.
Max looked down. "What? You mean... Jeff?" A look of anger flashed in his face. "Jeff's my boyfriend."
"He's a *human*," Barb said. "Not one of us. Either you have to choose a side - or he does."
"But... We wanted to have an equal-"
"Open your eyes. You're like three heads taller than he is. How can you grow even bigger and still be equals?"
Jeff stood and looked sadly up at Max. Their eyes met, and for a long moment no one said anything, the other Dominators waiting eagerly to see what would happen. Joe threw his little arms around Max's head and hugged it from above.
"They're right," Max finally said, and his voice was firm. "We're *not* equals." He lifted a foot and placed one of his big sneakers on Jeff's torso, pushing him back down. The sole of the shoe was big enough to stretch from Jeff's hips to his collarbone.
"Max," Jeff groaned, as his former boyfriend put more weight on him. "I can't breathe."
"I'm a powerful superhuman," Max said, ignoring him. "I'm your superior. It's time for you to worship me properly. I'll make you a crusher, or I'll crush you right here! I want you to serve me for the rest of your days, got it? "No" is not a valid answer, by the way.
"Max..." Jeff said. "F- Fine. If that's... What you want..."
"Suck on my shoe," Max said. He had an obvious hard-on. "It's a bit muddy out there. Clean it with your mouth." Jeff started to lick the sneaker without a word, peeling off sticky mud with his tongue and spitting it to the side. "Faster, you fucker! We've wasted a lot of time. I want you to be mine as soon as possible."
"I'm trying!" Jeff said, licking more desperately.
Max removed the sneaker, relieving the pressure on Jeff's torso. "You'll call me 'master' from now on."
"Y- Yes, master," Jeff said, gulping in big breaths of air.
"Take off your clothes. Show your hot little body to the other Dominators here," Max commanded.
"Seems like he's committed after all," Sammy said to the others as Jeff undressed. Most of them nodded and agreed. "Which one of you would have dared to treat your Extras like this back when they were full sized humans? I bet none of you. Max is breaking new ground here, as always." He smiled. "I trust him, and I think you should too. I think soon you'll see what an awesome leader he can be. But meanwhile..." He climbed to the next row and stood very straight. "Meanwhile *I*'m in charge. I was the shortest guy in our year and I'm the tallest now. I grew a full metre in the last six months, and I'm still growing every day. The Dominator virus is strongest in me!" He grinned. "Any objections?"
Sammy turned his head left and right, looking at each of the others in turn. His eyes lingered on Nelson, who grunted, and Max, who blushed and shrugged. No one said a word.
"Good! Give your phone numbers to Barb if she doesn't have them yet, so we can start a chat room. And I want you to talk to everyone who didn't show up. Find them and send them to talk to me. We need to know who's with us... And who's fucking toast!" He punched one hand with the other. "I'll be sending everyone some ideas for how we can take over."
Billie sat very still, wishing she could make herself disappear into the gap between rows, but the Dominators didn't turn around as they began to leave. Not even Barbara remembered she was there.
They were so serious about it. Serious and, somehow, united, despite the bickering and jockeying for power. She utterly believed that this was going to be the future - humans would soon become subservient to this new species, the Dominators. Every word of Barb's had cut right into her. She, too, had to choose a side. What side did she want to join?
Not a fucking difficult choice. Silently apologizing to her mother, she snuck out of the basketball field with renewed determination. She had to get an Extra. She had to get an Extra very soon.