Isaac switched to another card, frowning for a moment as he paused.

“With that said, it’s time to talk about this year. In the past we’ve done extended training in the summer, but only for students who are already enrolled. From now on, this will be new students’ introductions to the program.

“Additionally, in the past, the Stapledon program would pay for any college or university in the United States, we are now limiting that to specific universities or colleges within a certain distance of those universities. That still represents a wide selection of educational institutions.

“The reason for this is that we’ll be instituting daily training, and don’t want anyone to have travel too far. (more…)

Reed showed us to our rooms, let us drop off our luggage, and led us to the cafeteria before leaving us to meet the buses.

“Find a table,” he said as he opened the door to walk out, “the buses are here. You’ll be seeing all your friends in minutes.”

I believed him. Except for us, the room was empty of students, but it was full of staff. The tables had been set. The staff were placing food on four different tables that barely seemed to have room for more.

On the stage in front of the room, a man said, “Testing, testing?” into the microphone on the podium until someone called him on the phone. Then he said, “Good,” and left the stage and room. (more…)

“Cool,” Vaughn said. “Let’s go.”

He turned toward me. “You got everything?”

“I wouldn’t have locked up the van if I didn’t.” I looked over at Earthmover. “We can come back down here, right? The van’s actually kind of a school project itself, so I don’t really want to leave it in here. Ideally I’d want to bring it into wherever you have science labs. If I really had to, I could break it down into pieces and take it through the halls, but I’d rather not.”

Earthmover listened to me, and glanced over at the van. “That’s a science project?”

To be fair to him, the van was still white, and still said Castle Rock Plumbing. With my sister Rachel’s help (she was an art major), I’d learned how to fake rust convincingly, so the doors’ edges had brownish-red rust and flaking paint.


Even if the architect who designed the place had recognized the impact of the view and designed to make use of it, he or she hadn’t wasted much of it on the access road for service vehicles.

I had to turn right almost immediately, and drive straight in toward the buildings on a road that ran parallel to the wall.

We quickly left any kind of interesting view, passing all the shops, and driving the van into an elevator three times its length.

It started moving downward immediately after the van stopped moving. (more…)

I took the catmecha down off the side of the highway, landing in the parking lot of some massive medical complex. I changed the mecha back into the shape of a van, drove around the parking lot, changing the van’s color and model a couple times when I thought no one was looking.

I’d put in the specifications for 20 different models and years of vans. The ability to adjust the van’s looks made it the perfect car for blending into the crowd.

We left the parking lot looking like a 70′s era Dodge van with an airbrushed picture of a woman in a chainmail bikini fighting a dragon on the sides.


I considered my next step. We were on an eight lane highway with no median between the northbound and southbound. The only thing between them was a four foot high concrete barrier. That was on the left.

When I looked to the right, I realized that the lane must be a little lower than the road running alongside it because the concrete sloped down to the highway.

We were the second lane in from the right on the southbound side. Thanks to the catmecha’s legs, we might be able to move over the front of the red Chevy Cavalier to my left. I wasn’t completely confident though, that it wouldn’t step on the car’s hood, denting it at best, pushing the engine through to the concrete at worst.

That was the nearest we got to the side of the road. To the immediate left we had semi-truck, and whatever happened to be in the lane past that.

So, I went with plan b. (more…)

I wasn’t sure what I could do about that. Alex and his dad probably had good reasons for what they did. It wouldn’t be a good thing if something major came up, and they were too tired to help their team because they’d spent all day in the hospital healing people.

Realistically, they’d probably be better off allowing scientists to study how their healing worked with various illnesses and injuries than actually healing anybody.

I hoped they thought that far ahead. (more…)

Denver’s traffic sucked.

Driving in from Denver International Airport wasn’t bad at first, but then we got into the city. That’s when we began to experience everything I hated about driving in Chicago. By that I mean having to pay attention to more cars and lanes than I wanted to.

Two lanes would merge into three, and I’d have to watch from all directions as cars around moved across the highway in different directions.

If I hadn’t been driving I might have been able to pay attention to the bright blue sky, and how different the landscape was. Left to itself, Michigan is covered with large trees.

Colorado tends to be covered with grasses, and small trees, many of which are evergreens. Not only can you see the sky, but you can see for a long way on the ground. Plus, any time you get a little height while you’re in Denver—by going down a long hill, for example—the Rocky Mountains loom in the distance.

It probably says something about me that my strongest association with mountains is Mordor. (more…)


Sorry to tell you now, but I’m pushing the next update over to Friday. I thought I might be able to write it all last night, but that didn’t work out.

Today, however, is my wife’s birthday, and last night it occurred to me that doing my usual thing on Wednesday (writing until the update’s done, and basically ignoring everything else) would probably be a bad idea.

Thus, I’ll be finishing it up on Thursday, and posting somewhere between 1 and 2 EST on Friday.

In the meantime, if you do read the Pen and Cape Society website, you’ll note that I’m on the list as one of three options for Friday’s story update there. You can guess why I might be apphrensive about this. Feel free to click through and vote for well… anybody but me.

Then I rechecked the time, and understood where Courtney was—not here yet.

Only twenty minutes had passed since I started looking for the file, read it, and remembered the longer version of the story Grandpa Vander Sloot told me.

I still had forty minutes to kill.

Not having anything better to do, I walked over to one of the stools by the wall, and logged into one of the computers. I checked my email, surfed for a while, checking out out Double V’s forums. They had an entire section devoted to discussing the Heroes League.

Since we’d stopped St. Louis from being destroyed, and appeared prominently in the defense of the New York City and the surrounding area, the forum had only become more busy.

It was funny, and occasionally frustrating, at how little they knew about what was going on behind the scenes.