Being Watched: Part 2

“Great,” Cassie said, “Is he a Nazi too?”

“Dunno,” I said, and tapped away at the computer, heading for the Feds’ supers database.

Vaughn said, “Aren’t you the guy who knows this stuff? You’re on the Double V forums all the time.”

“Well, yeah, but I don’t know everything. The Nine keep a low profile. Everybody knows they do stuff because sometimes they take credit for things, but they employ supers, and they’re an organization. So when supers show up, you never know if it’s one of the higher ups or some mid-level guy.”

I watched as our system passed our key, and then got an encrypted response from the other server. When it verified that it came from the Feds, we could assume that we’d logged into the real server instead of some impostor.

A little later, I’d searched out the Nine’s entry. I displayed it on HQ’s twenty foot tall screen.

We started reading.

“An organization with global reach, the Nine is best known for its mysterious nine leaders…”

I skimmed downward.

“The Nine’s operations include legitimate companies, but also support of political organizations, some with ties to terrorists, and even revolutionary groups. The group owns its companies indirectly, often using corporate entities that exist only on paper…”

It offered a link listing front companies and the organizations they’d supposedly owned as well as individuals said to be working with them. The names were meaningless to me.

I kept on reading.

“Our first evidence of the Nine comes from the raid the Heroes League made on Dr. Mind’ facilities that resulted in the acquisition of a toddler with a combination of Captain Commando’s DNA, DNA from an unknown donor, and nonhuman DNA. Following up on the communications attempts that followed the raid revealed worldwide connections. Further research indicated that these communications occurred regularly, and that Dr. Mind’s supplies had been ordered by individuals on other continents with no known ties to his organization.”

The entry listed operations where the Nine were likely involved in what was going on.

I read the whole thing, and clicked through to read related pages when Cassie and Vaughn caught up.

I didn’t, in the end, find a list of who specifically ran the Nine.

“Terrorists,” Vaughn said. “These guys fund terrorists.”

Cassie and Vaughn had logged into the database on their own.

“And political parties. And they don’t seem to have a problem bribing or blackmailing government officials either. It looks like they’re all about behind-the-scenes power,” Cassie said.

“Yeah,” Vaughn stared at his screen, “the Feds think they’ve got connections in corporations all over too. I’d say these guys want to take over the world, but it looks like it might be too late.”

From the sound of their voices, they were impressed, and maybe a little shocked.

So was I. If they had as many connections as it seemed like, it couldn’t be long before they got into whatever database listed all of our real names.

Of course, we didn’t have access to that one either. I’d checked. So maybe we were more secure than I’d expect.

“Umm…”I said. “Totally different subject, but I’d like to know what you think. You remember Courtney from school? I’m thinking about fixing up our power impregnator, and letting her use it.”

Both Vaughn and Cassie looked up from their computer screens.

Cassie said, “What?”

Vaughn cocked his head, and then shook it. “Whoa. She doesn’t know about, you know, all of this, right?”

“I haven’t told her anything. I was just thinking that it might be a good idea to let her use her powers legally instead of illegally. She’s going to use them anyway, and if she owes us, that’s a good thing. Otherwise she’s going to have to steal stuff to brew her own power juice, or find someone else with a power impregnator.”

Cassie stood up. “I know for a fact that the government’s got a bunch of power impregnators these days. What’s wrong with talking to them?”

“I talked to Isaac. I think it can happen if I try to pull strings, but I guess that there’s a line. A bunch of supers’ kids are going through as part of a political deal.”

“Deal?” Cassie looked over at Vaughn, but from his face it was obvious he didn’t know what I was talking about, so she turned back to me.

I explained it.

Listening, her face seemed to get redder as my explanation went on. “That is so messed up!”

“I don’t know,” Vaughn said. “I think that’s the way these things get done. Everybody cuts a deal.”

She shook her head. “Not like this. For all we know, the government hasn’t gotten around the whole psychotic side effect problem—which is not good at all if they’re running everyone through it. If they did figure it out, it ought to be open to everybody.”

“Right,” Vaughn said, either sounding calmer than Cassie, or faking it better, “but I’m sure they’ll open it up soon, right?”

He caught my eye.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Isaac never said anything about opening it up to the public. Actually, it sounds like they’re keeping the power impregnator as quiet as possible.”

18 thoughts on “Being Watched: Part 2”

  1. Thanks for the Nine update. It was mostly what I thought it would be. I would have love to see some new name of villains or hired supers. Just so the wild speculation could begin.

    And Nick should fix the power impreganator. It never hurts to how it works when you need to reverse the effects of the machine.

    Now give me the books so I can reread all this again.

  2. Well duh. You know how much the religious right is going to whine about a power impregnator? If anyone’s going to impregnate their children, it’s going to be anyone they ever have sex with due to silly abstinence-only sex ed.

    But think on it. The use of the impregnators would become as much of a political issue as everything else if made public. Religious right wanting their good, wholesome, family values people with potential powers to be run through it and have support. Neocons wanting to create Team America: World Police with superheroes. Tea Party Libertarians wanting them to be available to anyone who isn’t a Democrat. Real Libertarians wanting them to be available to everyone. Ron Paul supporters wanting them to available to only whoever conservative-minded states want them to available to, like donors from Stormfront and the KKK (Hey, at least we’d have Nazi supervillains again). Environmentalists wanting their own Dream Green Team (bleh, a whole bunch of Poison Ivy’s without the sex appeal). PETA wanting super animals. Liberals wanting super teams to help with various aid projects around the world and at home. LGBT groups wanting the religious right’s superheroes to come out as gay after releasing pictures of those heroes having sex with someone of the same sex. Marcus Bachmann wanting to further examine those photos… so he can verify their authenticity…for his wife, of course.

    Which would all pile up into one huge mess of nothing getting done at all one way or the other. I can’t blame them for wanting to avoid the headache. As there’s a potential security issue in all this, it could be played close to the government’s chest in much the same way military equipment and information is.

    Or, if you want to take a strict constitutionalist view, the government has no right to regulate superheroes or superpowers. Or space, the internet, miniguns, comic books, computer games, television, radio, movies, nuclear weapons, airplanes, automobiles, trains, meth, crack, ecstacy, LSD, typewriters, word processors, and a species of mosquito called Culex pipiens f. molestus, because those were not mentioned in the Constitution, didn’t exist at the time, or could be foreseen.

  3. Something struck me as I read this chapter.

    If Nick was ever interested in fighting fire with fire against the Nine, he would need an infiltration specialist. And an unknown super that shows up on no government listings would be pretty handy…

  4. I think there’s a typo in “So maybe we were more secure that I’d expect.” Seems ‘that’ should be ‘than’

  5. Jeff/Lanky: Books are definitely going to happen. I’m currently looking at the cover for volume one.

    PG: I note that a few groups actually want to use powers for non-combat applications… With any luck, I’m hoping to make non-combat applications for powers visible in the story one of these days…

    Saru/Luke: And whether that actually turns out to work that way has yet to be seen…

    Notto: Thanks for the typo. For a moment I was almost ready to believe I’d managed to catch them all this time.

  6. Now, to go completely off from everything that matters, and no doubt annoy more potential commentators, I would like to present some information about Nikola Tesla one half of the time-traveling superteam Teddy N’ Tesla, or TNT.

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

    There you go, a mad scientist actually invented.

  7. Somehow it’s been seeming to me that Nick’s being too eager to help Courtney for it to be motivated by general friendliness or wish to avoid driving her to crime.
    Perhaps Haley should worry.

    In other news, I could really see someone leaking the power impregnator blueprints to the internets just to stick it to the man and give power to the people. The government and the ‘in-crowd’ are already abusing it to their heart’s content, so it’s only fair to let everybody into the pool.

  8. To Mazzon: I have an argument that trounces yours about letting everyone be able to have powers.

    The American South and the American Southwest exist.

  9. Hey, don’t lump the rest of the Southwest in with Texas. It’s practically a whole other country!

  10. Yeah, don’t lump the rest of the southwest in with Texas! You shouldn’t allow the general public to get their hands on the impregnator because of the American South and Texas :p PS. How is Texas part of the southwest, anyway? Don’t you mean the South?

    It seems to me that the change in subject is very much related–if the Nine have infiltrated so much, it stands to reason that you should grab as many allies as you can trust to help you defend yourself.

  11. By Southwest, I was also trying to include Arizona. Give them the power impregnator and you’d soon have a whole nother Dixie Superman on your hands.

  12. Jim,

    It you haven’t done so already, super powered reconstruction teams would probably be highly sought after. I believe Marvel actually had a humor comic for such a team at one point but I’m drawing a blank on it.

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