Graduation: Part 12

Vaughn walked over to us as soon as he saw us. He said something to Sean and the others, and met us just as I’d started to look over Vaughn’s pictures. Fortunately, only the senior pictures had been blown up. Some of them, specifically one where a five year old Vaughn had smeared red jelly over half his face, were mortifying enough at three by five inches.

I made a mental note to ask for veto power over any pictures my parents felt a need to share.

“Nick, Haley, you want to step outside? Grab some food first, but you want to go over there?”

He pointed at a spot outside the tent that didn’t have anybody very close.

We put some food on our plates, and followed him out.

“Man, this is weird.” Vaughn turned toward the tent, possibly to check if anyone was coming out of it after him.

“Yeah,” I said. “I thought Sean was angry with you.”

“Oh. Well, I paid him back with the bounty from fighting the Maniacs–“

Vaughn,” Haley whispered.

“Sorry. Anyway, I paid him back. So he likes me now.”

“Didn’t you crash his car?” I asked.

Vaughn’s head flicked back toward the tent. “His dad bought him a new one, and he’s over it.”

I looked past Vaughn to the tent. More than half of Justice Fist were there, plus their parents. “I guess I’m still surprised you invited him, and well, almost all of them.”

“Like I had much of anything to do with the invitation list. I invited people I liked, but my mom and dad invited a whole bunch of people they felt should be on the list — like relatives and people from work. We spent a lot time with Sean’s family when I was a kid, so they had to invite his parents, and the others too. I invited, you know, all of us –“

And then he stopped. Someone had walked out of the tent, saying, “There’s Vaughn.”

Mr. Beacham.

He wore a button down shirt, shorts, and sandals. In some ways that was even weirder than Sean being there. He looked surprisingly young outside school. I could believe that he was only ten years older than we were.

“Congratulations.” He shook Vaughn’s hand, and turned to me, “Congratulations to you too. I didn’t realize you knew each other.”

“Sure,” I said. “We’ve known each other since we were little kids.”

Haley nudged me with her elbow.

“Oh, and this is Haley. She goes to South High. Haley, this is Mr. Beacham, our history teacher.”

“Nice to meet you, Haley. You’re on South’s gymnastics team, right? Aren’t you Travis McAllister’s sister?”

Haley frowned briefly and said, “I am, but I wasn’t on the gymnastics team this year. I was… too busy.”

“Too bad. I’d heard you were one of the best. Well, maybe next year.”

“Maybe,” she said.

He must have caught something in her tone, or maybe a new thought struck him. Either way he changed the subject. “I’ve been doing a little research lately, and you might find it interesting. With so many superheroes around here, I did some research into the history of supers in our city. You know who was the first recorded supervillain in Grand Lake?”

“No idea,” I said.

He paused for a second, just like he did when he wanted the class’s attention. “Someone calling himself ‘The Master Martian,’ if you can believe it. According to the newspapers, he could ‘cloud men’s minds’.”

Haley cocked her head to one side, “He wasn’t really a Martian, was he?”

“I doubt it. The Sentinel’s article did say he had green skin — but that’s not the interesting part. You know who caught him? Two twelve year old kids. Giles Hardwick, and another boy named Joe. They shocked the Master Martian into unconsciousness with a device they’d invented, and brought him to the police.”

“Shocked him?” Vaughn asked.

“Right. Isn’t that unreal? With the kid geniuses, it sounds like a Tom Swift story. Well, I should go. I’ve got another open house to get to, and it’s the fourth today. Congratulations again, to both of you, and nice to meet you, Haley.”

He walked toward the rows of cars parked on the lawn.

When he got out of earshot, Haley said, “Your grandfather was named Joe. Could he have invented something? Or…”

Vaughn interrupted. “Do you think they were already experimenting with power juice?”

I watched Mr. Beacham go. “I could believe anything at this point. Wow. They did that at twelve? No wonder Grandpa started me with Lee when I was a kid.”

“Yeah,” Vaughn said. Then he asked Haley, “What did you think of Mr. Beacham?”

“He seems nice.” She gave a half smile, “But I hope he’s not spreading that story around.”

“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “but most people won’t think about it like we do. I’m glad he came though. It was nice to have someone here who didn’t hint that he was surprised that I even made it to graduation, and try to give me advice. Get this… One of my uncles, Uncle Rory, came up to me holding a cigarette in one hand, and a beer in the other, and told me that if I stayed away from drugs, I could do something great with my life. All I could think was, ‘are you looking at yourself?’ He’s spent his whole life working on family stuff.”

“I’m sure he meant well,” Haley said.

“Yeah. I bet.”

Ignoring the two of them for the moment, I checked over the crowd. “Didn’t you say that you invited everyone?”

Sure. I’ve seen Travis, Rachel, Daniel, Marcus, Cassie… I think Jaclyn’s coming.”

I pulled out my League phone. With Jaclyn’s help, I’d managed to get everyone their new phone and their suit communicators last night.

I tapped at the screen, and sent everyone a text message. “Who’s at Vaughn’s party?”

Daniel replied, skipping the phone, and delivering his message directly into my brain.

Daniel: Everyone. I’m on the opposite side of the tent from you. You know how Lee said we should be collecting intelligence?
Me: Yeah.
Daniel: I’ve been trying to read Russell Hardwick.
Me: Get anything?
Daniel: Reading him is like listening to static, but I know one thing. Ray and the rest of his team arrived last night. They’re in Grand Lake.

17 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 12”

  1. Ok, how did he know Giles Hardwick and Joe were twelve when this went down? Beacham didn’t mention their ages, or the year this happened. Also, Russell Hardwick and Giles Hardwick; did I miss something or is there going to be a connection?

    Another nice chapter, thanks

    RickC

    1. RickC: About them being 12? Oops. I managed to skip saying that. It was in there the first time I wrote, erased and edited that sentence. Really.

      Thanks for noticing.

      As for Russell and Giles… I haven’t ever said so in so many words, but I’ve implied that as Giles was Red Lightning/Vaughn’s grandfather and Russell is Vaughn’s uncle, the two of them were/are father and son.

  2. Da da dadadun! Gasp!

    At least Vaughn no longer has to worry about his kryptonite, the pictures, being quite as bad. As for the Martian Man-Master, who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men?

    Vaughn has really changed in this story. At first, I really got the sense that he was trouble. He might go bad, or get a drug problem again, or just be the “bad boy” of the team who has problems with authority, I thought.

    Instead, he comes across as quite a bit more mature here. It’s not like the first thing he did with his powers was find a way trip someone or take some petty revenge on them…yeah, looking at you here, Justice Fist. He seems clean and sober. He didn’t rain out his own graduation party to get people away from any embarrassing photos, even though the temptation to do so must be incredible.

  3. I’m starting to wonder just how much tendency do superpowers have of skipping generations, since if I haven’t missed something so far only Daniel’s father of his generation has been mentioned to have powers. I’m getting the picture that with the juice Russel has manifested something but so far we don’t know if it’s the lightning shared by his father, Vaughn and Lucas or something else…

  4. They are so screwed. Best I can tell at least one of two problems exist. 1 even a high school teacher can connect them with superheroes. 2 their high school teacher works for Ray.

  5. Didn’t Beacham counsel Justice Fist to not use secret identities? He’s definitely not just a bystander, I’m sure he’s keeping track of all the supers in Grand Lake when they’re in the news. It wouldn’t be that hard to figure out, really, if someone sat down and worked on it. Especially someone who could find out about Giles and Joe (GiJoe haha) with a little research.

  6. That is some feat to stop one just over 12, but that means he could be trying to figure out who everyone is.

    Ray and his team are there now, I wonder how long till something happens.

  7. My theory is still that the powers didn’t skip a generation, all the parents are secretly superheroes, the block was turned back against the heroes league by Mindstryke, and if anyone tries to touch the league they’re going to get POUNDED. This wild mass guessing will continue until Jim gets around to explaining how powers began and work in his world.

  8. BTW, how do we know Beacham doesn’t have some power… like reading minds or infinitesimal facial reactions. I don’t recall ever being told he was strictly “normal”.

  9. Hmmmm….

    Following that train of thought, UnwiseOwl, leads me to thinking that perhaps this whole town is just an incubator for the next generation of super-superheroes, the best of the best. All of this is just training, Truman-Show-style, being careful managed by Isaac Lim and the FBI.

    Hg

  10. Hmm, while Hg’s idea seems intriguing, it doesn’t really sound right to me, mainly because the League and the Fisters all have such, well, moderate powers that we’ve seen. I’d assume super-superheroes would kind of have to be more like the Authority or something, each one individually ridiculously powerful…

  11. It’s been revealed that the Cabal has been using certain cities as breeding grounds for supers and Red Lightning continued the practice here so yeah, it would make sense that more powerful supers would start cropping up in these locations. However, I’m not going to try to outguess the author. Such attempts are eminently futile in cases like Jim 🙂

  12. Late typo report:
    Sure. I’ve seen Travis, Rachel, Daniel, Marcus, Cassie… I think Jaclyn’s coming.”

    Missing the opening quote.

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