Graduation: Part 13

Me: Crap. I thought we might have more time.
Daniel: I don’t know. It seems about right to me.
Me: Do you know where he is?
Daniel: No. It’s hard to get much of anything. I get snippets, but not much more.

I paused, wondering how many of us would be alive a week from now.

Me: So, are you going to let people know, or should I?
Daniel: I’ll do it.
Me: Oh… I know that Vaughn’s relatives are generally resistant to telepathy, but did you notice if Russell Hardwick is more resistant now? Or anything weird?
Daniel: What kind of weird?
Me: I should have mentioned this earlier, but Alex noticed something odd about him. I assumed that Alex was sensing the change from the Impregnator, but maybe he wasn’t. If the combination of juice and Impregnator is most likely to hurt someone who’s been at it for years, it’ll be the parents who are at the most risk of losing it.
Daniel: Right, but no, I haven’t noticed anything. He doesn’t seem crazy, just focused.
Me: Are you going to keep on eavesdropping for the rest of the party?
Daniel: As long as I can stand it.
Me: Good luck.

As Daniel broke contact, I noticed that Haley and Vaughn weren’t saying anything.

Instants later, Vaughn said, “Shit.”

Haley’s eyes darted around, examining the crowd. Then she stopped, closed her eyes, and sniffed the air.

“I don’t smell him. I wonder how long we should stay?”

“Well, I’m stuck here,” Vaughn said, “unless I really want to piss off my mom. Or unless we had a thunderstorm, and it’s not like I’d get away with it either. Unlike your parents, she’d know exactly what happened.”

Haley pursed her lips. “Do you think she’d tell your uncle anything?”

“No,” Vaughn said. “They barely have anything to do with each other outside work. She’s more involved in the family charities anyway.”

I glanced down at my phone, and thought about texting everyone again, but then it beeped simultaneous with Vaughn’s and Haley’s.

I had a text message from Travis. Opening it, I learned that he’d called a team meeting for five — after this was over.

As Vaughn and Haley pulled out their own phones, and read their copies of the message, I said to Vaughn, “Do you have to stay to clean up?”

“We’ve got people for that. I’ll be there. My mom might want me to stay around for family stuff, but I’ll skip it.”

* * *

Isaac Lim stared down at us from the wall screen. “You’re going to what? No. Let us take care of it. We’ve got people for that. I know you’re the Heroes League. I know you’ve fought these people before, but you got lucky. If you make a mistake, they’ll kill you, and your families. This isn’t a game. You’re not in the Executioner’s league, and you’re definitely not in Syndicate L’s — not when they turn their full attention to you. The best thing you can do is tell us what you know. When we need your help, we’ll bring you in.”

We were all in costume for the call.

Travis, more intimidating than usual in his black Night Wolf costume,  took a breath. “We don’t want to wait. We want to go in and at least look for him. All we know is that the Mystic heard Ray had arrived in town, but he couldn’t get any more out of Hardwick.”

“That’s good enough. We’ll send in our people, and don’t worry, we’ll coordinate with you. You’ll find that we’ll be very helpful.”

He grinned at us, and after a little more talk, the phone call ended.

After Isaac disappeared from the screen, Travis said, “Well, that’s phase one. Feds are on the way.”

Jaclyn got up from her chair. “I don’t like it. They have no idea what they’re getting into.”

Travis shrugged. “Hey, we’re doing what Lee said to do. If the Executioners showed up before we were ready for them, we were supposed to call in the Feds. And it’s not like they don’t know. We told them about Prime, Hardwick, everything. We even told him Hardwick might have an Impregnator.”

“I know. Good job pretending you’re unhappy about bringing them in, by the way.”

“Lee said to make look like we didn’t want to. There we go.”

“OK, so they know the facts of the situation. But do they know that an immortal is using them as human shields for his students? No? I didn’t think so.”

Daniel looked up from checking his email to say, “I know it’s dishonest, but they’d have come even if they knew it. They’ve got to recapture Ray and the others. The escape makes them look really bad. Plus, if we all get killed, it also makes them look bad. They really played up their connection to us after everything with the Mayor.”

“Even though they didn’t help at all,” Vaughn said.

Haley nudged me. “Why did Lee want us to look like we didn’t want help?”

“I asked him. It’s in case Prime, Ray, or even Hardwick has connections inside the FBI. If they’re assuming we’re overconfident, or at least inexperienced, they’ll underestimate us.”

“Exactly,” Cassie said. “I like how he thinks.”

Marcus leaned forward. “It’s a cool idea, but it might have been nice if he’d mentioned it to everyone.”

“Oh,” Rachel said, “I’m sure he thought we’d do a good job acting inexperienced without being told.”

8 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 13”

  1. And the plot thickens some more. Rachel seems to have a cooler head on her shoulders than the others at times.

    In the first line of Isaac speaking “Let us take of it”, did you mean to include “care” in that?

  2. I have a theory. A theory that might ruin the story. Or not. See, the Hardwick guy, let’s just call him Afro Ninja. So Afro Ninja Hardwick was really focused, but they got out of him that the Executioners were in town. If I were trying to hunt down a group of high school kids whose secret identities I didn’t know, I would have put that information out there.

    Why I like the idea of having figured out the master plan beforehand, I also don’t want to risk spoiling anything if I happen to be right.

  3. Ok so the feds are coming to find Ray and his team now, hopefully they are working alone otherwise it would be very bad.

    Now time to get the bots out looking for the other crazies, and get that sifting program off the ground while he is at it.

  4. The Afro Ninja Hardwick hypothesis has a problem: it assumes that A) Hardwick is willing to go along with the Executioner’s payback killing and B) that they have reason to believe that Hardwick is going to be scanned by a psychic… while being confident that said psychic will only get the most minor details.

    A) is unlikely because Hardwick and his people are incredibly worried about Prime and his Cabal, and they know Prime is ALSO gunning for the New League; even if they’re unwilling to ally with the League, they aren’t about to make things easier on the guy they consider a deadly threat.

    B) is unlikely because if they’re aware of Hardwick’s mental screen they’re rather more likely to assume no one will go to the trouble to peer through instead of making a bet on just how much a psychic will get out; moreover, there’s very little chance that the Executioner team has had a chance to do the research they so very clearly do. They have nothing to gain by letting their prey know that they’re in town; it’d be far easier to gain the information they need and carry out the initial killings (of family members, per their usual modus operandi) with an ignorant League.

  5. Red legacy mentions earlier that they’re putting just about everyone through the impregnator, wouldn’t they have tried to put Vaughn through it by now? If I recall correctly when Keith tested the power tester drops on Vaughn, Sean and Co. was nearby and should know that Vaughn is probably pretty powerful. Do they know Vaughn is the storm king and that is why they’re not putting him through the impregnator or are they just ignoring Vaughn’s potential, perhaps because of his mother ?

    What would happen if they were to put Vaughn through the impregnator again? Would he burn up like his grandfather?

    If they are deliberately avoiding putting Vaughn through the impregnator then wouldn’t Vaughn realize that by now?

    To me it seems like an awkward situation were the Hardwick family knows Vaughn is the storm king, Vaughn knows that they know he’s the storm king, the Hardwick family knows that Vaughn knows that they know. They just aren’t saying it straight out that they know.

    Is this a bit of a ramble? Probably.

    Also I like this webserial, it’s very enjoyable.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I’m enjoying writing it, and the cool thing for you at least is that you’ve got years to read at this point.

      As for your questions, well… Many of them are answered as things go further. One of them, the main one, is not, so I’ll answer it here.

      They’re not going after Vaughn because his mom won’t allow it, and she wouldn’t necessarily tell him when things like that come up. This is a family that keeps secrets.

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