Graduation: Part 2

I thought about Camille for a second. She was a junior — which meant that Sean’s dad was doing it with her mom when Mrs. Drucker was pregnant with Sean.

The fact that Sean didn’t know led me to another thought. “If Sean and Camille ever got involved, that would be really messed up.”

“That would be sick. Someone should tell them — just to avoid it. I read somewhere that siblings who weren’t raised together are actually more likely to find each other attractive than your average person.”

“Yuck.”

“No kidding. Do you think one of us should say something?”

“You can do it,” I said. “I don’t think he’d listen to me.”

I thought for a moment, and than asked, “When you said Rachel noticed them talking, were they just talking, or are they still together?”

“No. They were talking about money. I think he must be paying her monthly.”

“Blackmail?”

“Wouldn’t that be cool? But no, it’s boring. I think he’s just paying his share. So maybe he’s not a complete jerk. It’s just hard to tell. Actually, from what I’ve seen Sean and Sydney might be better off with the same arrangement.”

“You mean getting his money, but not actually seeing him?”

“Exactly. I wouldn’t live at their house if you paid me.”

We talked for a little longer after that, but eventually I did manage to end the conversation and retreat to the lab. There, sitting in the same room as two broken Rocket suits, I managed to get through my graduation paperwork within half an hour. It had looked worse than it was.

With that out of the way, I set up the various machines in the lab to start pumping out roachbot parts. After an hour of messing around, it became obvious that I couldn’t create roachbots from start to finish by machine. I could, however, get them about halfway. I’d have to do a lot of the soldering myself, but I could at least get the shell finished and a majority of the components inside.

The new ideas used largely the same design. With the exception of replacement bots for bugging people, they were all essentially mini-missiles.

Basically I had three new concepts:
1. Explosive roachbots.
2. Roachbots that delivered the same paralyzing noise as the paralysis guns.
3. Roachbots that sped after cars or people and latched on, delivering coordinates back to HQ or my controller.

I started the machines going, waiting a while to make sure things were going correctly, and then I left the room.

Marcus was still watching video.

I sat down at the main table, logged into a terminal, and opened up a window to monitor the machines in the lab.

“Hey, Marcus. Do you have anything left? Should I be helping?”

“I’m getting close to done, but if you want to check the voice mail, it’ll get me out sooner. Rachel’s been checking it, but she hasn’t been in today, so someone’s got to.”

“Ok.”

I deleted the voice mail from reporters. There were a lot of them, just like there always were after a big fight. I forwarded anything that sounded like a business proposition over to the board’s email.

I listened to the voice mail from normal people. Some of them were complaining about the property damage from the fight. Others were calling to thank us for fighting.

I wasn’t sure if we deserved the praise. There wouldn’t have been a fight last night if the Cabal’s army hadn’t been trying to trap us.

After about twenty minutes, I only had a few voice mails to go.

One of them stood out. From the area code, it appeared to come out of Tennessee, but the caller ID didn’t supply a name.

I clicked on the call.

I didn’t recognize the voice that came over the line. It sounded level, male, and not all that old — at best, I guessed that the speaker had to be in his thirties.

The man’s accent hinted that the speaker came from the south, but it didn’t hint very strongly.

“Heroes League. You escaped. I never expected it. All of our intelligence indicated that you were nothing more than children who’d gotten lucky when you faced your mayor, but now you’ve fought some of the best of us. So, a few of you must be competent. That, or luckier than I want to believe.

“I can’t ignore you anymore, and I can no longer trust you solely to my subordinates.

“I’m coming myself.

“Don’t congratulate yourselves for this. I, and the people with me, are the inheritors of a two thousand year tradition of service to the Cabal, the part that survived its destruction, the empire’s last, hidden legion. You exposed the Cabal, and you stand in the way of our plans. We will destroy you or die trying.

“I am Prime, the legion’s commander, and I will see you soon,” he finished, and hung up.

I listened to it a couple more times before stopping and staring at the screen.

Marcus’ voice broke me out of imagining what powers and people the Cabal’s remnants might have at their disposal.

“Nick, are you okay?”

“Kind of, but you’re going to want to listen to this.”

19 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 2”

  1. Well, the ending almost sidetracked me from pointing out what seemed to be an awkward sentence when I read it. At the least you’ll want to remove one of the double “the”s.

    “A lot of the the ideas I’d had used largely the same design.”

    Seems this would be a good time for Nick and company to join the group out in space…. out in anywhere but Michianna.

  2. Thanks for pointing it out. It’s at least partly fixed.

    As for heading out to space… That would cause them to miss school. One can’t have that.

  3. …. this strikes me as a pointedly amateurish phone call on Prime’s part. What’s the play, here? Why would he possible want to warn them of him coming?

    At least Nick is doing more preparation. He’s been getting behind.

    Optical circuitry, Nick. Look into it. Electromagnetism-free.

  4. http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/19500/?a=f

    Link goes to an article about the telecom industry, but you can see where I’m going with it. Some components rely on electromagnetism to control the flow, though, so:

    http://www.honeywell.com/sites/portal?smap=aerospace&page=Radiation-Hardened-Electronics&theme=T4

    Designed to protect circuit integrity in the event of solar flares and proton storms. If that’s not enough to stand up to Sean, then nothing on earth will ever be. A quick bit of research and some suit upgrades should at least make it so that all of his circuits work just fine, though it would mean that the suit as a whole would still be attracted to Sean.

    For something to deal with the ‘brute’ magnetism effects, where everything in the immediate radius seems to be attracted to Sean, you’d probably need to lock him in a lead box, realistically. However if we’re doing realism then he shouldn’t be able to do this kind of thing anyway. A more far-fetched but still feasible possibility is a lattice of a high-permeability material such as Mumetal in order to soak and distort the effects. In other words, cover him with a sort of magnetic net. If nothing else something like that should at least drastically reduce his range. There’s no other way to really contain that flavor of energy.

  5. Well, the way I see it, Prime and the Cabal have been around a couple thousand years. They think of themselves as immortal and unbeatable. He might just be doing the “honourable” thing and informing his enemy they’re enemies. The “Come out and fight like a man” kinda speech.

    He doesn’t believe in sneak attacks, but in a formal declaration of war.

  6. P.S. to Jim — thanks for dropping by and commenting on how to improve Samaritan. Given that you’re writing the best web-fiction of superheroes that I read, it was nice to have practical advice from someone I respect a lot.

  7. I first I was all hairs on the back of the neck after Prime’s call, but Parahacker is right, what’s with this?? Normally the villains in this story are far too Genre Savvy to be caught monologuing.

    Unless, of course, one theory is that this is not actually the Cabal, but another enemy group of government agency trying to flush them out.

  8. What I mean is, after all the underlings of the Cabal failed with the usual sneaky tactics, Prime decided to get involved himself.

    He might think that assassination is a low tactic, and use it on opponents he has a low opinion of, rather than get his hands dirty. Now that he’s getting personally involved, maybe he handles it with more old school honour etiquette, because he has some respect for this enemy now. Just my idea.

  9. Parahacker: Optic circuitry has been on my mind, and it probably will appear one of these days. Really, that’s almost all that’s needed to make the current Rocket suit nearly Sean-proof. The current Rocket suit includes a lot of ceramics.

    Gavin: No problem with regards to the advice. If it ultimately turns out to be useful for you, that would be great.

  10. Prime – Is he going to be a Superman archtype maybe? Speaking of, Jim is there one in the LOM universe? The first, the best, demigod, a hero that all the capes look up to? Maybe he has been retired for many, many years?

  11. Honestly, I’ve thought about whether or not to put a Superman equivalent into LofN, but haven’t ever taken the plunge.

    In some ways, the original Heroes League is almost a Superman equivalent as a group, but isn’t quite.

    Anyway, if I do, I’m sure he or she will show up in the story soon enough.

  12. “Honestly, I’ve thought about whether or not to put a Superman equivalent into LofN, but haven’t ever taken the plunge.”

    Maybe Lee masqueraded as one in the past…

  13. I agree that creating a non-magnetic suit, perhaps a version of the Stealth Suit, would be a good idea at this point. I hadn’t really thought about optical circuitry though, don’t know enough about it. My ow idea, including a Faraday cage in the design, would need to be limited to shielding only certain components.

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