Turning Eighteen: Part 5

Unsure of what to say next, I paused.

Daniel’s dad said, “Start where you think the beginning is.”

“Well, the real beginning’s back in December when we found Ray at Haley’s  family Christmas party, but that would take too long, and you could say the next beginning is when Ray killed Sean’s dad at graduation, but I think the beginning that matters was when Sean told Rachel and I that he was going to kick Ray’s ass, and beat us to the cottage…”

I gave him a step by step account of what happened, telling him about how Lee (as Gunther) distracted Ray, allowing me to escape, and forcing Ray to follow. Describing Ray’s borrowed powers, and how I’d finally thrown him into the power lines I said, “he managed to make things worse by grabbing a power line so hard his hand touched metal. By the time he hit the ground, he’d snapped the line in two, and practically electrocuted himself. The thing is, he was still alive. I could see him healing, but then he stopped, and he also shrunk back to his normal size.

“I don’t think he had any powers then because the last person he’d touched was me–and even if he could absorb through the stealth suit, I don’t have anything to take. Nothing that would help him heal anyway. That’s when Sean skewered him with the sign, when he was lying on the ground doing nothing.”

“And what did you do then?”

“I told him that I couldn’t believe he’d killed Ray, and he said a few things, and I got angry. Then Gina attacked us, and Jaclyn took her out. Right after that, everyone in the League showed up, along with most of what was Justice Fist, and the police. If I’d made a big deal about it, I don’t know what would have happened. Maybe I should have, but  I was really tired.

“And that’s it. There’s nothing more to tell.”

He nodded. “So what do you want to happen now? Do you want Sean to go to jail?”

“I don’t know. I want something to happen, but I don’t think I want him to go to jail. Ray was a monster. With all the people he killed, and all the people he threatened to kill if I didn’t work for Syndicate L… He deserved to die. If I’d killed him in the fight, I wouldn’t have been happy about it, but I think I could have lived with it. Still, I wouldn’t have killed him while he was lying helpless on the ground.”

Completely calmly, as if he hadn’t just heard me describe a man’s death or say I would have been okay with killing Ray myself, he said, “Let’s talk about your options. If you did want to accuse him of murder, it wouldn’t be hard to establish a motive. Everybody knows who killed his father. Establishing that he was no longer a threat? That could be a challenge. Besides you and Sean, Rachel was the only person who saw the fight, right? Even though people don’t know she’s your sister, they know she’s your teammate. His lawyers would have some obvious routes to discredit her testimony and yours. You fought him as the Rocket once, right?”

“Yes. In the metal yard near downtown.”

“Right. So there’s bad blood between you and him.”

“Yes, but–”

“And if it became known that you and Rachel are brother and sister, it would be even better for them.”

“Is that likely?”

“I’ve seen bigger surprises come out during a trial.”

I thought about that for a second. “Couldn’t you prove he was lying on the ground, and that he couldn’t do anything with forensics? Uh… somehow?”

“Real life isn’t a CSI show. Besides, I’ve heard of supers getting off even if it’s obvious they did it when someone like Ray was the victim. Sometimes juries just won’t convict.”

“Are you telling me the law’s useless?”

“No. It’s not useless. I’m trying to show you it’s not simple, and that you might not get what you want.”

“So what am I supposed to do? Beat him up?”

Mr. Cohen almost smiled. One corner of his mouth rose a little. “That didn’t end with the old League.  We’re responsible to police our own. A lot of people wouldn’t be in here right now. They’d be hunting him down, and making sure that he knew that if he ever did anything like that again, they’re capable of doing the same to him. Captain Commando acted as the League’s unofficial policeman for heroes. Larry’s done it too.”

“Larry?”

Mr. Cohen’s eyes drifted toward the ceiling, and  though he didn’t show it, his tone of voice made me think he was highly amused. “Years ago. Maybe he’ll tell you about it.”

“OK, but I don’t think it would work with Sean. I fought him before he got powers, and he pulled his dad in after the fight. After he got powers I tried to talk to him as the Rocket, and he attacked me. Daniel stopped him, but he didn’t seem intimidated after that.”

“It’s not the way I handle it myself, but from what I understand you’ve got to be deliberately frightening. You can’t just win. You need to leave him terrified of what you’ll do if he ever crosses you again.”

“I don’t want to beat him up. What else could I do?”

“I’ve got an idea, but you aren’t going to like it.”

18 thoughts on “Turning Eighteen: Part 5”

  1. Hehehe, can’t wait to find out what the idea is! Awesome once again. Thank you for making me smile and keep on writing. Love it! 🙂

  2. Thanks. I’m glad you’re reading.

    I’ll be interested in seeing people’s response to his idea. I know Nick won’t like it, but hopefully readers will at least be amused.

  3. When a man with decades of experience says “you aren’t going to like it.” my money on is Nick won’t like it.

    Nick should look into the possibility of negating the powers gained by the machine. Then build a device with modular components that each fit into the equipment used by a different League member, and destroy any blueprints or notes so it can’t be duplicated. By using the modular components it would be necessary for multiple League members to agree to it being used.
    He’d also need to build in safeguards so if it did fall into unauthorized hands it would self destruct. But I don’t know how he’d get around certain powers such as a technomancer.

  4. Just my two euro cents, but I do hope the plan includes a good kick square in the cojones somewhere along the way.
    Not that I think it’s a proper response to vigilante executions, but Sean’s had one coming longer than that.

  5. Actually, repeated groin shots, with threats for more every time he messes up, would be a highly effective deterrent against further ass-hattery on Sean’s part.

    Hg

  6. I still have to say that Nick is in the wrong, here. He didn’t KNOW that Ray was “helpless.” He ASSUMED Ray was. In light of what the man was capable of, in light of what he’d already done and already bounced back from, that was stupid. That could have been a lethal mistake for him, for his allies, for some innocent powerless bastard loading Ray into an ambulance or police van…. IRL self-defense experts, even POLICE will tell you to never assume someone is down– make SURE. And no, they don’t mean “poke him with a stick to see if he twitches.”

    If Sean is remotely human, he’s probably sitting somewhere having the shakes as the enormity of what he’s done hits him. As necessary, as justified as it was, he took a life. Soldiers, people trained to kill and to do it with speed and efficiency, will break down under that. Cops will need therapy after shooting down someone.

    Sean took down a monster wearing human skin… one on whom the law had no effect and prisons had no control. And now other heroes are conspiring against him for doing what was desperately necessary? This isn’t morals or ethics, it’s touchy-feely sanctimony. You expect such squeamishness from a naive child— and legal adult or not, an eighteen year old is still naive— but not from a rational adult. THUMBS DOWN.

  7. With all my (our) desires to pay Sean back (and teach him a lesson), I realized I couldn’t think of something for Nick to do to him. Now the Ghost… that has some possibilities…. like a permanently implanted explosive device…or a series of them.

    I should rename myself, An Editor, and based on my experience, everyone needs an editor, Jim less than most.

    On my first read, I wasn’t sure what stopped.
    “I could see him healing, but then stopped, and he also shrunk back to his normal size.”

    And a double “you” in this sentence.
    “Do you you want Sean to go to jail?”

  8. My speculatin’ sense is going crazy…

    I’m seeing a threat that Nick has somehow reverse engineered the chair or power juice so as to render someone else powerless. A bluff, but if believed, could work quite nicely.

    Another good one would be if they threatened to somehow make Sean look like Ray, then set him loose while informing the superhero community that Ray, the guy who kills their families, was still alive…

    Or maybe they can somehow implant memories simulating intense, deadly electrocution followed by a stabbing pain through his body.

    Or they could just threaten his mom next. He’s still got a mom, right? Well, not for much longer if Sean keeps acting like that.

  9. My guess would be that he’ll suggest asking Sean to join the League. There’s no point crying over spilled entrails if they’re not going to put him in jail or a shallow grave, and keeping him close could help steer him in a better direction in the future.

  10. He’s going to give Sean a mental block, of course — what else do you think The Mentat would be suggesting that Nick wouldn’t like?

  11. That last line reminded me of Marvin the maniacally depressed robot on the movie version of “The Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy”

  12. Bart, a MENTAL nad shot. Telekinetic nut cruncher. Psychic low blow. Charles Xavier’s starring role in The Nutcracker. Miss Cleo’s Jamaican jerked jerk balls. Crotch Shotting with John Edwards. The Amazing Randi’s pseudoscientific nut punch. Ermac’s Flawless Victory: Ballality.

  13. @andrul: if Nick develops a machine that can take away powers, even if it’s only powers activated via power juice/impregnator, then no matter what he decides to do with it, he can always decide on his own to use it.

    After all, if he built one from scratch, he can build another. Destroying the plans would only slow him down; after all, he’d be the guy who drew them up in the first place.

    Admittedly, he could have a trusted telepath block him on that subject. That could never come back to bite him, though.

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