Pieces of metal dropped out of the air. An engine block landed twenty feet away from me and bounced, smacking into the scrap pile, then bouncing off it and rolling to a stop.
Insulting a guy with magnetic powers in middle of a metal scrap yard might not have been a good idea.
“I think,” Sean said. “you can’t handle the idea that new people might be coming up. You’ve been getting the attention, and the money, and you don’t want to give it up. Well, all of us using the juice? We’re the revolution. We’re going to change everything.”
Trying to sound as if I didn’t think what he’d just said was completely ridiculous, I asked, “How?”
“The juice and the impregnator open powers up to everyone. Powers won’t be held by one little group. It’s going to be like a democracy.”
“Bull. Even if everybody that could use juice did, it would just move the metahuman population from ten thousand to thirty thousand people out of nearly seven billion. That’s not much of a difference.”
Sean had evidently absorbed the part of Mr. Beacham’s lecture where he’d compared supers with inherited powers to feudal lords, but hadn’t been reading the newspaper reports about the government’s juice research.
“Yeah? It’s still more, and there’s a lot of us around here. That’s what you’re afraid of. You’re afraid of us being better than you.”
“Better?” I paused, trying to figure out where any of this came from. It was all completely irrelevant to the conversation. Why were we even talking about it?
In my mind, Daniel said, “Because it’s a big deal to him.”
“This is totally stupid,” I said aloud. “If I wanted to hurt you, I wouldn’t have said anything, and let you turn yourself into a homicidal manaic. Because if you want everyone to know your name, that’s the way to go.”
“If you call me stupid again, I am going to kick your ass.”
The pieces of metal in the air stopped circling altogether, and hung, motionless, above us.
“I didn’t call you stupid,” I said, and then I thought about it. I had implied he was stupid — well, maybe more than implied. It might be closer to say that I’d broadly hinted he was stupid.
“Bullshit. You’re nothing without that suit, and you know what it’s made of? Metal. And that’s my thing.”
Technically, it wasn’t all metal. Actually an awful lot of what used to be metal had been replaced with high tech ceramics and plastics. Still, Grandpa and I hadn’t gotten rid of all of it.
“I didn’t try to call you stupid, but don’t you think that beating a guy up because you thought he called you stupid wouldn’t be the brightest –”
In retrospect, I probably could have phrased that better.
All the metal hanging above Sean flew toward the scrap piles next to us, some of it landing on the pile, some of it missing, and flying into the main yard.
Then Sean started yanking at the suit with his powers. I knew it for a few different reasons. First of all because I could feel a pull on the suit. Second, because the readouts went out. Grandpa had designed the suit so that it was resistant to electromagnetic fields. He’d also designed it so that if the field was particularly powerful, it would shut down the most vulnerable systems.
That meant that the sonics wouldn’t work, and I only had strength and the armor’s protection left. I hoped Sean wouldn’t think to throw me into the lake.
Sean meanwhile, looked frustrated. Evidently the relatively small amounts metal had made it harder to get a good hold.
That’s not to say he wasn’t moving me. He was. My feet scraped across the ground for a foot or so as if I were water-skiing in slow motion.
Then Sean fell over.
As he did, the force pulling me forward stopped, and I just barely managed to avoid falling.
Even as I began to balance, I noticed Jody beginning to blur as he ran toward Daniel and I.
The readouts in my helmet had reappeared, and I began to raise my arm to blast him with the sonics, but I didn’t have to.
Jody floated upward three feet. His feet moved uselessly for a moment, but then he stopped, and started cursing at us.
I looked to see what Dayton was doing.
He raised his hands to head level, and held them there, palms facing me.
“I’m not going to fight the two of you by myself.”
“Sorry,” I said. To Daniel, I said, “I guess we should go.”
Afterward, we flew back to HQ, changed into normal clothes, and played video games for a couple hours. Nothing interrupted us — which was good, because I wasn’t in the mood to respond to emergencies anyway.
We talked about what had happened too, but not until after we’d turned off the Playstation.
“I guess that could have gone better,” I said.
“No kidding,” Daniel said. “Try not to imply, or hint, that people are idiots, and it generally goes better.”
“I gathered that. Still, you were pretty impressive at the end.”
Daniel shrugged. “As a precaution, I’d been trying to work out how to paralyze Sean the whole time you were talking. By the time he attacked you, I understood what it took for him. With Jody, I had a little precognitive warning. Lifting him was easy.”
“Did I tell you I’d figured out what to do with Julie’s mind control stuff? I’m pretty sure that’s got to use ultrasonic frequencies just like the Ball’s paralysis ray. I’m thinking about a device that could stop it, but it’s got to be something I can use at school. After today, I can’t assume that she won’t use it in normal life.”
“Right.” Daniel thought for a second. “I think there’s a pretty good chance that Sean will be nervous enough to listen to you about the Impregnator. If nothing else, Dayton will be. Maybe that’ll be good enough.”
We walked around HQ for a little while longer, turning out lights and talking.
Daniel took his car home, and I walked to my house. It wasn’t far, and I wanted to walk.
Walking down the sidewalk, I knew we had to let everyone know what had happened, and not just tonight, but this afternoon too.
I didn’t look forward to it.